Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Familiar Tune: Usual Powers Top the Chart for Quad-A North Allegheny, Seneca Valley Lead Rankings; Blackhawk, Quaker Valley, California Also Rate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Familiar Tune: Usual Powers Top the Chart for Quad-A North Allegheny, Seneca Valley Lead Rankings; Blackhawk, Quaker Valley, California Also Rate

Article excerpt

Either North Allegheny or Seneca Valley has played in the past five WPIAL Class AAAA baseball championship games. Expect more of the same this year.

North Allegheny and Seneca Valley are ranked 1-2 in the first Post-Gazette rankings of the season. North Allegheny beat Seneca Valley in last year's WPIAL title game. Although both must replace some key players who graduated, both will be strong again -- especially with pitching.

It wouldn't be surprising to see North Allegheny and Seneca Valley play for the WPIAL title again in May, but they will meet twice in the regular season because both play in Section 1 of Class AAAA.

High school teams in Pennsylvania were allowed to start playing games last Friday. A few teams went south to such places as Myrtle Beach or Florida to start the season. Many teams had games postponed the past week because of the weather.

Section play in the WPIAL begins next week. Here is a look at some of the top teams in the WPIAL:

Class AAAA

North Allegheny must replace a few all-section players who graduated, but the Tigers always seem to reload. Mitch Matchi figures to be one of the WPIAL's top pitchers. He has an 11-2 career record with a 2.04 ERA and has signed with the University of Buffalo.

Jason Monper and Tyler Saundry are two other reasons North Allegheny is expected to have an excellent pitching staff. First baseman Brandon Rossier is one of the team's top position players. North Allegheny has won seven WPIAL titles in the past 24 seasons.

No. 2-ranked Seneca Valley also has a top pitcher in Connor Coward. A Virginia Tech recruit, Coward was 8-1 last season with 80 strikeouts in 61 innings and was one of only two juniors on the Post- Gazette 10-player All-Area team.

No. 3 Hempfield is coming off the best season in school history and the Spartans have a top outfielder in Joe DeFloria. But ace pitcher Zach Martinelli graduated.

Pine-Richland is another north suburban team expected to be strong. Although the Rams compete in Section 4 against some east suburban teams, they will return to Section 1 next year and play against North Allegheny and Seneca Valley. Pine-Richland has shortstop Daane Berezo, who has signed with Virginia Commonwealth, and also all-section outfielder Jamie Switalski.

Central Catholic will be led by pitcher Grant Gustic and outfielder Luca Farina. Gustic tied for second in the WPIAL in pitching wins during the 2013 regular season with a 7-0 record.

Norwin is definitely a team to watch. Shortstop J.J. Matijevic has signed with the University of Arizona. Noah Smith figures to be a top pitcher.

Penn-Trafford, Plum, Shaler Mt. Lebanon and Peters Township could also figure in the WPIAL title chase this season.

Class AAA

This classification doesn't seem to have an overwhelming favorite, but one could do a lot worse than pick Blackhawk as the No. …

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