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WPIAL playoff pairs set for baseball, softball

Paul Schofield
| Saturday, May 12, 2007

When the Hempfield baseball team dropped a 5-4 decisions to Norwin back on April 27, its playoff hopes were slim.

But Hempfield coach Denny Little continued to encourage his squad not to quit. The Spartans didn't, they won their final five games, including four section games, and qualified for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

The WPIAL announced the baseball pairings Friday and the softball pairings on Thursday. While some pigtail-round games will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday, most of the first-round games will be Thursday and Friday.

The baseball finals are scheduled for May 29 and 30 at Consol Energy Field, formerly Falconi Field, in Washington. The softball finals are slated for May 31 at California University. The softball playoffs will begin on Monday.

Hempfield (9-8), which will open the playoffs against Bethel Park (13-5) on Thursday at a site and time to be determined, comes into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams.

Little said the Spartans have been playing playoff-type games for the past week.

"We started the season slowly," Little said. "Coming back to defeat Franklin Regional (7-6) was the key game. We determined to win that game."

Second baseman Dan Norris, shortstop Casey Teagarden and pitcher John Veach-Dixon are some of the players who come up big for the Spartans down the stretch.

While Hempfield is hot, Franklin Regional (10-8) stumbles into the playoffs, having lost seven of its past 10 games. The Panthers will play Central Catholic (12-6) on Friday. None of the sites for the first-round games have been determined.

Penn-Trafford (14-2), which is seeded fourth in Class AAAA, will play Thursday against North Hills (9-9), while Norwin (11-4), last year's runner-up, will play North Allegheny (14-5) on Friday.

Laurel Highlands (17-2), the Section 2-AAA champion, had a big year. The Mustangs, who are seeded third, drew a first-round bye. They won't play until the week of May 21 against the winner of the West Mifflin (13-4) and Blackhawk (9-9) game. The Mustangs are stocked with pitchers, freshman Ethan Mildren, junior Josh Gmitter and senior J.C. Myers. Junior catcher Zach Dascenzo, the son of former Cubs outfielder Doug Dascenzo, is one of the Mustangs' top hitters.

Yough (14-3) does open the playoffs until Friday against Moon (11-6), while Greensburg Salem (11-6) will meet Hampton (11-7). Tom Burkett, Craig Sedunov, Justin Shaffer and Nick Hedegus hope to lead Yough, while Matt Mangery, Steve Zerbini, Zack Ruffner and Dan Cesare have sparked Greensburg Salem.

Greensburg Central Catholic (12-2), the Section 4-AA champion and returning AA runner-up, will begin the playoffs on Thursday against North Catholic (11-9). The Centurions recently welcomed the return of power-hitter Max Suter, who missed most of the season after shoulder surgery.

Brownsville (12-5), the Section 2-AA champion, opens the playoffs on Thursday against Riverview (11-5), which features one of the top pitchers in the WPIAL in David Kaye.

Returning Class A champion California (18-2), seeded first in Class A, drew a first round bye, while Bentworth (13-4) and Carmichaels (11-6) will begin tournament play on Friday.

Softball

Hempfield (16-3) and Latrobe (15-3) tied for first in Section 1-AAAA and drew first-round byes. Hempfield is seeded third and Latrobe fourth in Class AAAA.

Hempfield will play the winner of Wednesday's game between Baldwin (14-3) and Penn Hills (10-6), while Latrobe battles the winner of Monday's game between Trinity (15-3) and Gateway (11-7).

Latrobe, which lost two of three games to Hempfield this season, forced a section tie with a 2-1 victory on May 7.

Connellsville (6-11) and Kiski Area (15-3) will play 6 p.m. Monday at California University.

Catcher Ashley Pisone and shortstop Ashley Jury hope to carry Hempfield deep into the playoffs, while Latrobe will rely on the strong right arm of pitcher Alexa Bryson.

Greensburg Salem (14-0), the Section 2-AAA champion, will open the playoffs 4 p.m. Monday at Gateway against Waynesburg (14-5). Greensburg Salem is seeded fourth. Another district game Monday has Belle Vernon (15-5) versus West Allegheny (11-7) at California at 4 p.m.

The Golden Lions feature a strong hitting team led by Andrea Thompson, Rachel Roddy and Jillian Croce.

On Wednesday, Franklin Regional (11-5) meets Hampton (12-6) at 4 p.m. at North Allegheny, and Laurel Highlands (10-8) tangles with Elizabeth Forward (14-3) at 6 at California.

Greensburg Central Catholic (14-4) breezed to Section 4-AA title, opens the playoffs 4 p.m. Tuesday at Elderton against Burrell (12-3). Mt. Pleasant (11-6), which finished third in Section 4, will play a pigtail-round game 2 p.m. Monday at Gateway against Burgettstown (11-9).

Additional Information:

Top WPIAL teams

Baseball

AAAA: Plum (17-1); AAA: West Allegheny (20-0); AA: Burrell (14-1); A: California (18-2).

Softball

AAAA: Shaler (16-2); AAA: Ellwood City (16-0); AA: Sto-Rox (16-3); A: Chartiers-Houston (18-0).

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