WPIAL baseball playoff previews

Class-by-class breakdown of the postseason matchups

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CLASS AAAA

Top seeds: Seneca Valley is first, North Allegheny is second, Hempfield third and Pine-Richland fourth.

Winner will be: Seneca Valley. The Raiders are the two-time defending champions and have seven players who were regulars on last year's team. That playoff experience is very helpful. Seneca Valley's offense is strong and the pitching, although not superb, is good enough. But odds are stacked against Seneca Valley. Since the WPIAL started crowning champions in 1914, only two teams have won three in a row. Allegheny, which later became a member of the City League, won six from 1917-22 and Pine-Richland won three from 2004-06.

The scoop: North Allegheny finished second to Seneca Valley in Section 1 and is good enough to win it all. North Allegheny lost to Seneca Valley twice by scores of 3-2. ... Pine-Richland, which used to play in the same section with North Allegheny and Seneca Valley, could make some noise. The Rams won the Section 4 title. ... Keep an eye on Central Catholic. The Vikings have a strong hitting team, but do they have enough pitching? ... Bethel Park could be a sleeper. Although the Black Hawks finished second to Canon-McMillan in Section 5, Bethel Park has a 16-3 record.

History lesson: A team from the northern suburbs -- Seneca Valley, Pine-Richland or North Allegheny -- has won the past four championships. ... This is the ninth year of the AAAA classification.

CLASS AAA

Top seeds: South Park is first, Hopewell second, Hampton third and Chartiers Valley fourth.

Winner will be: South Park. The Eagles are 20-0 and seem to have everything. They have four players batting better than .450 and an excellent pitching staff with Nick Yobbi (5-0), Randy Dobnak (6-0) and Jake Bywalski (5-0). They have outscored opponents, 200-43. Since the WPIAL switched to more than one classification in 1979, only four teams have won a title with an undefeated record.

The scoop: Hopewell has a strong hitting team and is definitely championship caliber. ... Blackhawk is only 9-6, but the Cougars are a threat mainly because of junior pitcher Brendan McKay, who has allowed only one earned run this season and has a 21-1 career record. When he pitches, Blackhawk can beat anyone. ... Chartiers Valley has a strong offense, but don't forget about Keystone Oaks, which tied Chartiers Valley for the Section 3 title. Keystone Oaks, in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, owns a 1-0 victory against Chartiers Valley.

History lesson: Thirty years ago, Beaver won the WPIAL title with two pitchers who would go on to pitch in the major leagues -- John Burkett and Doug Piatt.

CLASS AA

Top seeds: Quaker Valley is first, Beaver second, Riverside third and Deer Lakes fourth.

Winner will be: Riverside. There isn't an overwhelming favorite in this class, but Riverside is as good as anyone. The Panthers are the two-time defending PIAA champion. Although they don't appear to be quite as strong this year, coach Dan Oliastro seems to get the best out of his teams in the postseason. Riverside has been to the WPIAL final four times since 2005.

The scoop: You could probably make the point that five or six teams are capable of winning the title. Quaker Valley is one. The Quakers are one of only two undefeated teams in the WPIAL (South Park is the other). ... Beaver is strong. The Bobcats tied Riverside for the Section 5 title, but Beaver defeated Riverside twice.

History lesson: It was 15 years ago that Washington won the WPIAL Class AA championship at Three Rivers Stadium and Diontae Walker pitched a no-hitter in the title game against Freeport.

CLASS A

Top seeds: Serra is first, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart second, Riverview third and Carmichaels fourth.

Winner will be: It's hard to go against OLSH, which has a 16-2 record and has won 15 in a row. The Chargers have scored in double figures 11 times and Preston Falascino has five home runs.

The scoop: Watch out for Serra. The Eagles don't have a pitcher as good as Alain Girman (2012 graduate) but they are well-rounded and are 16-1. They are strong offensively (four players batting better than . 430) and Wayne Hydak and Chad Hazaga are both 6-0 as pitchers. ... Riverview could go far, mainly because of Anthony Malky, an ace pitcher.

History lesson: Since 2000, Neshannock has won four WPIAL championships, the most of any team in any classification. But the Lancers moved up to Class AA this season and didn't make the playoffs.

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