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Baseball: Bethel Park is playoff bound

Written by Brad Everett on .

Bethel Park has had its ups and downs this season.

Monday, the Black Hawks had their best moment yet.

In a must-win game for both teams, Bethel Park defeated Baldwin, 7-2, to earn a spot in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. The teams tied for third in Section 5 with 6-6 records, but the Black Hawks (9-7 overall) picked up the playoff berth courtesy of their two wins against the Highlanders.

Corey Augenstein came up big for Bethel Park with an outstanding pitching performance. Augenstein went the distance, giving up five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts.

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Baseball: South Feature Athlete - Mt. Lebanon's Austin Kitchen (2015)

Written by Brad Everett on .

Name: Austin Kitchen
School: Mt. Lebanon
Grade: 12
Sport: Baseball
Position: Pitcher

Background: Kitchen fired a one-hitter with eight strikeouts to lead Mt. Lebanon to a 2-0 win against Peters Township last Wednesday. It was another sparkling effort by Kitchen, a senior left-hander and Coastal Carolina recruit. Heading into Monday's game against Upper St. Clair, Kitchen was 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 37 innings. Opponents were batting just .140 against Kitchen, who is 11-1 over the past two seasons.

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Baseball: West Mifflin claims another section title

Written by Brad Everett on .

West Mifflin rolled to a section title last season.

This season, the Titans decided to let the good times roll.

Make it back-to-back section titles for West Mifflin, which locked up the outright Class AAA Section 4 title with a 2-0 win against South Park last Friday.

Ryan Bytzura was the star for the Titans that afternoon, tossing a one-hit shutout and striking out five. Danny Howard provided the offense with a two-run single. The teams combined for only two hits.

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Baseball: Fourteen South teams (and maybe one more) headed to the WPIAL playoffs

Written by Brad Everett on .

When the WPIAL playoffs get underway next week, the South area will be well represented in each of the four classes.

Heading into today's action, 14 teams have clinched playoff berths. One more could be added to that number this afternoon when Bishop Canevin travels to Eden Christian for what is essentially a play-in game.

Mt. Lebanon is one of three South teams headed to the postseason in Class AAAA. The Blue Devils (15-1) won the Section 5 title and are expected to be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Joining them are section runner-up Canon-McMillan (13-4) and third-place finisher Bethel Park (9-7).

Four teams have locked up bids in Class AAA. One of them is Section 3 champion Chartiers Valley (13-4), which is ranked No. 1 in the class. West Mifflin (13-4) won the Section 4 title for the second year in a row. Belle Vernon (9-7) and South Park (10-10) also qualified from that section, as they tied for third place.

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Softball: Baldwin replaces one all-section player with another

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

In the third game of the season Baldwin lost its returning all-section pitcher, junior Ana Hale, for the season due to a knee injury. The Highlanders did not panic, they simply turned to their other returning all-section junior, third baseman Jaime Schleicher.

Schleicher moved to pitcher, sophomore designated player Samantha Wampler moved to third base and Baldwin never skipped a beat. Entering the final week of the season Baldwin was 10-3 and 9-2 in Section 4-AAAA with a playoff berth already clinched.

"Jaime went from third to pitcher and Samantha DP to third base, just a couple of moves and it ended up working really well," coach Samantha Kuharic said.

It will be the third consecutive playoff appearance for the nucleus of the team, a group of seven three-year starting juniors. The Class of 2016 arrived two years ago and made an immediate impact. The group has enjoyed plenty of regular-season success but knows only postseason disappointment. They have lost one-run games in the WPIAL first round each of the last year's two years. They fell to McKeesport 11-10 in 2013 and 4-3 to Plum in 2014.

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Softball: South Feature Athlete - Chartiers-Houston's Kaitlyn Dittrich

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Name: Kaitlyn Dittrich
School: Chartiers-Houston
Grade: 9
Sport: Softball
Position: Pitcher

Background: Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson debuted a freshman pitcher this season. Alderson had a number of options including senior Kassie Kesneck, the team's starting pitcher last season. But Alderson had all the confidence in the world in Dittrich and she knew that if the freshman could handle things in the pitching circle, the Buccaneers would be a stronger team with Kesneck in centerfield where she was a former all-section player. Dittrich is 10-1 through her first 11 decisions. Dittrich was the hard luck loser in a 1-0 loss to Jefferson-Morgan. She fired one-hitter but unfortunately the Jefferson-Morgan pitcher fired a no-hitter.

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Softball: Chartiers-Houston shares section title

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

In a November team meeting four months before the season began, Chartiers-Houston softball coach Tricia Alderson was explaining the opportunity ahead for her team – three vacant WPIAL semifinal spots.

After a two-year stint in Class AA, the Buccaneers moved back to down Class A this season. The move down happened just as three of the four WPIAL Class A semifinalists from last season moved up to Class AA.

"We talked about it back in November how there was only one team back who made the semis," Alderson said. "And they (Jefferson-Morgan) are in our section. And we felt pretty good about having the majority of our team back too."

Chartiers-Houston is back in a classification it used to rule recently. In its last three years in Class A, Chartiers-Houston won a 2010 state title, a 2011 WPIAL title and a 2012 WPIAL title. In its first year back in Class A, Chartiers-Houston is 15-2 through 17 games and it went 9-1 in Section 1-A to share the section title with Jefferson-Morgan (11-2, 9-1).

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Softball: Steel Valley enters playoffs on high note

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Sometimes third-place teams in sections "back-pedal" into the playoffs. Sometimes they get in by virtue of another team losing or by a tiebreaker. Steel Valley is headed to the playoffs and no one will accuse the Ironmen of backing their way in. Steel Valley (7-4, 7-4) is currently in third place in Section 4-AA. It will finish either third or in a tie for second depending on South Park (7-3, 7-3). Seton-LaSalle (10-0, 10-0) has claimed the outright section title. There was a chance that Steel Valley would still make the playoffs regardless of their game against South Allegheny. But Steel Valley would leave nothing to chance. Trailing 9-8 entering the bottom of the tenth inning, Maddie Cotter delivered with a two-run, walk-off double to give the Ironmen a dramatic 10-9 triumph against the Gladiators (5-6, 5-5).

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Lacrosse: Big week for unbeaten Mt. Lebanon girls

Written by Joe Koch on .

The calendar has turned to May, and that means lacrosse teams around Western Pennsylvania are gearing up for the WPIAL tournament that begins later this month.

Some teams know the postseason is in their future. It's just a matter of where these teams will be seeded.

One such team that likely falls into that category is the Mt. Lebanon High girls lacrosse team. Owners of an overall record of 13-0 and standing atop Division 1, Section 1 with a 8-0 record, the Blue Devils appear to have an inside track to the postseason. The Blue Devils visited Oakland Catholic on Friday, and they likely will be 14-0 and 9-0 in section play heading into next week.

Still, Mt. Lebanon -- currently ranked No. 2 in Laxpower.com's rankings for Western Pennsylvania girls lacrosse teams -- have plenty of challenges facing them. The Blue Devils have three games next week, and all of them are against section rivals. First up is Monday's game with Shady Side Academy, which currently is ranked No. 5 in the rankings. The Indians are 6-2, and all of their games have been played against section rivals.

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Lacrosse: South Feature Athlete - Chartiers Valley's Maria Stamerra

Written by Joe Koch on .

Name: Maria Stamerra
School: Chartiers Valley
Grade: 11
Sport: Girls Lacrosse
Position: Midfield

Background: Maria is a three-year starter for Chartiers Valley, which advanced to the Division 2 championship game the past two seasons. Through this past Thursday's 12-2 Division 1, Section 1 victory over Peters Township, Maria has scored 44 goals and dished out 10 assists. Maria also competes on the Chartiers Valley girls track team in the 100-meter dash and the high jump. Maria has verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati to play women's lacrosse. She is a member of the Chartiers Valley High Student Council.

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Lacrosse: Playoff seeding at stake for Upper St. Clair boys

Written by Joe Koch on .

When a team needs to step up its game a notch, there's nothing like playing an arch-rival. Or, as the late Chicago Cubs standout Ernie Banks used to say: "Let's play two."

Upper St. Clair's boys lacrosse team might not be playing two games in one day, but the Panthers' two games next week might feel as if they've played two games. That's what happens when the opponents happen to be arch-rivals Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon.

In the configuration that is boys Division 1, Section 1, each team plays a section opponent one time. And, as it turns out, the Panthers, the Blue Devils and the Indians, all are enjoying outstanding seasons. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 2 and the Idnians are ranked No. 5 in Laxpower.com's regional boys rankings. Upper St. Clair is No. 12.

Upper St. Clair's playoff quest begins today with a game at Peters Township. And, no matter what happens today, they have to quickly move past the game's result when they take the short trek up U.S. 19 to Mt. Lebanon for Wednesday's regular-season finale. It will be Senior Night at Mt. Lebanon and that should make what will be an emotional night even more pronounced in its intensity.

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Baseball: Chartiers Valley is playoff bound

Written by John D'Abruzzo on .

John D'Abruzzo profiles the Chartiers Valley baseball team.

2015 0501 ChartiersValley Baseball(Photo: Steve Alauzen of Chartiers Valley slides ahead the tag of Jeremy Schmitt of Hampton to score Saturday. Alauzen will have plenty of opportunities to score for the Colts as he is a starting outfielder as a freshman. Lake Fong/Post-Gazette)

"One-sided decisions have been few and far between this spring for Chartiers Valley's varsity baseball team.

Actually, the Colts have experienced some real nailbiters.

Through their first 15 games, Jim Jaskowski's team won six one-run games and played in a total of nine games decided by two runs or fewer.

"Almost every one of our games have been close ones," Jaskowski said. "We've been right in all of those games until the very end, which is comforting."

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Baseball: Washington closes in on playoff spot

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Washington baseball team.

"Washington has done its best to simulate games in the gymnasium and prepare itself for the rigors of playing baseball this season.

To an extent it has worked.

The Little Prexies opened the season with six consecutive Section 2-AA wins and held a share of first place. That was until last week when they were pummeled by Brownsville, 11-0 and 19-5, on consecutive days to enter this week in sole possession of second place.

Washington (7-3, 7-2) defeated Beth-Center, 7-0, Tuesday and was scheduled to play Frazier Wednesday in section games. They play another section game today against Charleroi Area."

 

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Softball: Return to 'A' a boost for Chartiers-Houston

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Nicholas Tolomeo profiles the Chartiers-Houston softball team.

"In a November team meeting four months before the season began, Chartiers-Houston softball coach Tricia Alderson was explaining the opportunity ahead for her team – three vacant WPIAL semifinal spots.

After a two-year stint in Class AA, the Buccaneers moved back to Class A this season. The drop in classification happened just as three of the four WPIAL Class A semifinalists from last season moved up to Class AA.

"We talked about it back in November how there was only one team back who made the semis," Alderson said. "And that team [Jefferson-Morgan] is in our section. We felt pretty good about having the majority of our team back, too."

Chartiers-Houston is back in a classification it used to rule. In its last three years in Class A before jumping to AA, Chartiers-Houston won a 2010 state title, a 2011 WPIAL title and a 2012 WPIAL title."

 

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Lacrosse: Mt. Lebanon boys conduct title search

Written by Marky Billson on .

Marky Billson profiles the Mt. Lebanon boys lacrosse team.

"Mt. Lebanon boys lacrosse coach Mike Erner insists his team cannot draw upon the success of 2014 — when the Blue Devils advanced to the PIAA semifinals — for success this year.

What he might be able to draw upon is a championship of another league to prepare them for the WPIAL playoffs later this month.

This weekend at Dublin Jerome High School just outside of Columbus, Ohio, the Blue Devils will play in the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Tournament. It's the championship of the "other" league Mt. Lebanon's lacrosse team plays in, along with other teams in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan as well as two other traditional Western Pennsylvania lacrosse powers, Shady Side Academy and Sewickley Academy.

The top four teams of the 18-team league, ranked by the MSLCA coaches, play in an "A" bracket for a championship, while teams 5-8 play in a secondary tournament, with the final 10 teams playing among themselves."

 

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Track: Hurdler is right on key for Upper St. Clair

Written by Brad Everett on .

Brad Everett profiles Upper St. Clair track standout Brevin Banton.

"Brevin Banton can sing.

Very well, actually.

Banton, a senior at Upper St. Clair High School, is a member of two school choruses and played major roles in a pair of school musicals the past two years, "All Shook Up" and "Kiss Me, Kate."

Banton has at least one other talent, too, one that has him keeping his composure while kissing his competition goodbye.

The kid with the golden voice has gold medal aspirations."

 

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Boys Volleyball: Bethel Park drives for fifth title in a row

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles the Bethel Park boys volleyball team. Read his story below.

The Bethel Park boys volleyball team had the number 5 in mind as it opened the 2015 season.

"We've won four straight [Class AAA] Section 1 titles," Bethel Park coach Tom Allman said. "Our goal is make it five in a row."

With one week remaining in the regular season, the Black Hawks are close to reaching that goal.

Bethel Park has a 10-0 record in section play and needs two more victories to claim its fifth consecutive section title. The Black Hawks defeated Peters Township, 3-0, at home Tuesday and had a bye on Thursday.

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Boys Tennis: Panthers poised to get back to states

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

Upper St. Clair hasn’t made the PIAA Class AAA team tournament since it won the last of its five consecutive WPIAL titles in 2008.

But the Panthers have a golden opportunity to break the drought this season.

Upper St. Clair is the No. 2 seed after winning the Class AAA Section 4 title and will begin its quest today against Plum, a 4-1 winner in its pigtail match against Shaler.

USC was the No. 1 seed last season and the No. 2 seed two years ago, but both times the Panthers were beaten in the semifinals. While USC will look to get over the semifinal hump this year, if the Panthers were too lose in that round this time, they would still have a chance to make states as three WPIAL teams will represent the district at states instead of two like in years past.