Quad-A Softball Preview
Quad-A Sports is proud to bring you our 2014 Softball Preview. We’ll begin our preview in reverse order with Section 5 because that is the home of the two-time defending WPIAL champion Canon-McMillan Big Macs.
Canon-McMillan earned a state championship last year with an impressive 25-1 record and an epic 4-3 win over Neshaminy in 12 innings in the PIAA title game. The Big Macs will be without standout pitcher Alayna Astuto, who graduated, but plenty of talent returns for the 2014 season. Canon-Mac will have a stacked lineup with all-state third baseman, and Robert Morris recruit, Olivia Lorusso (.390, 7 HR) and junior catcher Abby McCartney (.515, 5 HR). The Big Macs will also see the return of Pitt recruit Giorgiana Zeremenko who missed most of last season due to injury. Canon-McMillan has a legitimate shot at earning a WPIAL three-peat, but they first must deal with a section that returns a bevy of starting talent. The Peters Township Indians return all-section pitcher Kellyn Perich, Upper St. Clair has two-time all-section selection Karsen Rooney, Chartiers Valley brings back eight starters and Baldwin returns eight as well.
The North Allegheny Tigers reached the WPIAL title game and the PIAA quarterfinals a year ago before being knocked off each time by the champion Big Macs. Many consider North Allegheny as the team that will unseat Canon-McMillan this year as the Tigers boast not one but two exceptional pitchers named Beining. Sami and Madi Beining give the Tigers a one-two punch in the pitching circle that accounted for all 18 of NA’s victories last season and a collective ERA of 1.95. Position players Laura Cotter, Christine Scherer and Mary Funderlich, who all hit over .400 last year, give the Tigers a well-balanced lineup. Other contenders in perhaps the deepest section in Quad-A include the Shaler Titans and the Seneca Valley Raiders. Shaler returns all-section pitcher Brianna Dobson who collected 13 wins and 64 strikeouts as a freshman. All faces will be familiar for the Raiders with every starter coming back, including all-section infielder Alexa Sisko who batted .414 last year.
The McKeesport Tigers had an eye-popping season in 2013 and ran away with the section crown with a perfect 12-0 record. The Tigers look to repeat as section champs with all-state pitcher Jess Beitler back in the fold. Beitler earned 16 of McKeesport’s 17 wins last season and punched out 123 opposing batters. All-section infielders Vanessa Falce and Courtney Patterson hope to give Beitler plenty of run support over the course of the season. Other headliners in this section include Woodland Hills which returns all-section shortstop Kelsey Geyer. Another talented shortstop in Section 2 is Plum’s Jordan Seneca who is headed to St. Francis next season. Penn Hills and Gateway are hoping to rebuild quickly. The Gators have a new coach this season in Andy Popojas.
Hempfield is just two years removed from a WPIAL title game appearance and the Spartans are again poised to make some noise in 2014. The loud bat of outfielder Kasey Kolick produced 24 runs and a .385 batting average last season for the Spartans. Freshman Morgan Ryan will have big shoes to fill in the pitching circle where Hope Pehrson had been a mainstay for the last four seasons. Penn-Trafford has a new coach with Monica Cox now at the helm. There’s a new coach as well in Latrobe but she isn’t all that unfamiliar to the Wildcats faithful. That’s because former two-time Player of the Year Alexa Bryson takes over the coaching duties after a stellar career at Robert Morris University. Bryson won 58 games in a Wildcats uniform and will hope to lead Latrobe to many more victories now as a coach. Latrobe returns all-state first baseman and pitcher Shelby Noel who belted opposing hurlers for a .460 batting average and 27 RBI’s. The Wildcats are the reigning Section 1 champions.