Paige Flore has put up some very impressive numbers pitching for the West Mifflin Titans softball team this season.
Craig Meyer / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Top seeds: Canon-McMillan is first, Shaler second, Penn-Trafford third and Seneca Valley fourth.
Winner will be: Canon-McMillan. In a situation like this, it's difficult to pick against the two-time defending WPIAL champion, especially after yet another strong season. There's likely no better power-hitting team in the area than the Big Macs, who scored at least 10 runs in 12 of their 19 games thus far, the sort of offensive production that should keep them in most any game that they play. One potential area of concern could be pitching, though, as they have given up runs against better competition, but with a player such as Tara Fowler on the mound, it's hard to imagine it being a true detriment.
The scoop: There was likely no stronger section in the class this season than Section 3, which boasts three teams capable of winning it all. Shaler is the highest seed of the group, having lost just once in its past 11 games. ... Seneca Valley finished the regular season 13-2 and tied atop the section with Shaler, which it went 1-1 against. ... North Allegheny, the defending WPIAL runner-up, went 15-4 this year and looms as a potential spoiler for Canon-McMillan, should the teams ultimately meet in the second round.
History lesson: Though Canon-McMillan is favored to win a third consecutive WPIAL title, no Class AAAA team has won three WPIAL championships in a row.
Top seeds: Greensburg Salem is first, South Fayette second, West Mifflin third and Knoch fourth.
Winner will be: Greensburg Salem. Another defending champion, the Golden Lions finished with a better regular-season record (13-1) than they did last season when they won the WPIAL championship with ease behind the now-graduated Jayne Oberdorf and her 21-1 record. Oberdorf's younger sister, Claire, has emerged as a star hitter in her junior season for a team that has yet to lose to a Class AAA opponent this season (its lone defeat came to Class AAAA Penn-Trafford).
The scoop: In the kind of tournament where a standout pitcher can dominate, watch out for West Mifflin, which has arguably the WPIAL's best pitcher in Paige Flore, who finished the season among the top three players in the WPIAL in strikeouts and wins. ... South Fayette, which was a 4-3 loss against West Allegheny away from being undefeated, has won its past eight games while averaging 10.8 runs. ... A potential sleeper could be Trinity, which went 15-2 (with both losses to South Fayette) and has one of the WPIAL's top offensive players in junior shortstop Olivia Gray.
History lesson: Could there be another blowout in what's supposed to be a close game? The past two WPIAL Class AAA championships have been decided by a combined 15-0 margin.
Top seeds: Beaver is first, Deer Lakes second, Seton-LaSalle third and Keystone Oaks fourth.
Winner will be: Deer Lakes. It's incredibly difficult to decide between the Lancers and Beaver, the two undefeated teams in the class, but Deer Lakes gets the nod because it has slightly more big-game experience between the two remarkably young rosters. The Lancers, who have appeared in the past two WPIAL title games, are averaging 11.6 runs per game.
The scoop: Beaver is the top seed in the class after finishing the regular season 13-0. A potent offense was complemented by a stout defense led by strong pitching, one that allowed only 19 runs in 13 games. Sophomore pitcher Casey Farkasovsky is a name worth keeping an eye on. ... Seton-LaSalle could potentially spoil a championship matchup of perfect teams. The Rebels are 10-2 and winners of eight of their past nine, with the lone loss coming by one run in the regular-season finale against Beaver. ... After starting the season 2-3, fourth-seeded Keystone Oaks has won nine of its past 10.
History lesson: After winning it four years in a row from 2008-11, the top overall seed in Class AA has not won the championship in each of the past two years.
Top seeds: Neshannock is first, Carmichaels second, Jefferson-Morgan third and Shenango fourth.
Winner will be: Neshannock. The defending WPIAL champion, PIAA runner-up and top seed in the class has been untested for much of the season, winning its past four games by an average of 13 runs while scoring 14.8 runs per game in that span.
The scoop: Second-seeded Carmichaels will look to break through this season after losing in the WPIAL championship the past two years. Led by star pitcher Erica Burns, the Mighty Mikes finished 14-3, losing those three games by a combined four runs. ... Jefferson-Morgan has lost just once in its past 12 games, a streak in which it has held seven of its opponents to no runs. ... Shenango, which has defeated its past four opponents by a combined 66-0 margin, is the only Class A team to have defeated Neshannock this season. The two would meet in the semifinals if each is able to win its first game.
History lesson: Last season, Neshannock became only the fourth different school to win a WPIAL Class A softball championship, joining Chartiers-Houston, Vincentian and Sto-Rox.
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