Four of the eight teams in the WPIAL softball championships have at least one title in their school history. The other four finalists are hoping to find out how the other half lives.
Canon-McMillan, Elizabeth Forward, Deer Lakes and Greensburg Central Catholic are the four that never have won a championship. It is unusual to see so many teams in the title games that are seeking their first championship, but Canon-McMillan and Deer Lakes never even have played in the title game. They have certainly helped make 2012 the season for the new girls on the block.
"It's pretty exciting for our players," said Canon-McMillan coach Michelle Moeller. "We keep reminding them to not look too far ahead and enjoy the moment."
All four WPIAL championships will be played Thursday at California University's Lilly Field, beginning with the 11:30 a.m. Class A final between Carmichaels and Chartiers-Houston. Greensburg Central Catholic meets Deer Lakes in Class AA at 2 p.m., followed by Montour vs. Elizabeth Forward in Class AAA at 4:30, and Hempfield vs. Canon-McMillan in Class AAAA at 7.
Char-Houston is trying for its second consecutive championship, fifth in the past eight seasons and ninth overall. Hempfield won a title in '09, and Montour has three championships, the most recent in '10. Carmichaels has two ('87 and '88).
Moeller and some other WPIAL coaches believe new faces are showing up in championship games because there is more parity. One of the reasons for that could be a change in rules. This is the second softball season since the pitching rubber was moved back from 40 to 43 feet.
"I think softball is getting better all around in general, but I think the pitching rubber being moved back has opened up the parity," said Moeller, who won a WPIAL championship as a player at Baldwin in '86.
In other words, teams these days need more than one dominant pitcher to win.
"I know in 2005 and 2006, we had some good teams with [pitcher] Becca Petras and didn't need to play defense that often," Moeller said. "Now we have to play defense, be smart in the field and make plays.
"I think hitting has gotten better as well [because of the pitching rubber change]. I think generally in this whole area, a lot more teams have hitters now."
In WPIAL championship terms, some of the teams are seeking their first hit.
"We know Hempfield is certainly the favorite, being the No. 2 seed and having been there before [in the championship]," Moeller said. "We're just trying to keep the kids calm and relaxed and tell them to enjoy the game and the battle."
First Published May 29, 2012 12:00 AM