Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Neshannock High softball team got rewarded yesterday.
The Lady Lancers cruised through the competition, capturing the WPIAL Section 4-AA title with a 14-0 record. Neshannock (15-2 overall), which is ranked No. 1 in Class A by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has 10 wins by shutout.
That was more than enough to nail down the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class A playoffs, which were announced yesterday. With the top seed comes a first-round bye for the Lady Lancers.
New Castle (Class AAA), Mohawk (Class AA) and Shenango (Class A) also advanced to the WPIAL softball playoffs.
Neshannock will meet the winner of Thursday’s Bishop Canevin (9-6) and Serra Catholic (10-6) contest on May 21 at a time and site to be determined.
Sophomore Madison Shaffer (15-2) guides the Lady Lancers in the circle. Shaffer leads the county in strikeouts (139) and earned run average (0.68), while working 71 innings.
Rayanna Furst, a senior, owns a county-high .648 batting average for Neshannock to go along with 18 RBIs.
Last year, the Lady Lancers went 24-1, claiming the PIAA Class AA championship. They lost in the WPIAL semifinals, though, to Deer Lakes, 2-0. Realignment dropped Neshannock to Class A.
In Class AAA, New Castle (8-6) will tangle with Elizabeth Forward at 5 p.m. Thursday at Fairhaven Park. The 13th-seeded Lady ’Canes have won three games in a row, including the last two by shutout.
New Castle clinched third place in Section 1 with a 6-4 mark, knocking off Ellwood City Lincoln for the final spot, 1-0. Lady ’Canes coach Leah Ann Williams said she will start freshman Carley Aven in the circle for the playoff matchup. Christina Evans, a junior, paces New Castle with two home runs and three players are batting over .400.
The fourth-seeded Lady Warriors (16-4) shared the Section 3 crown with a 9-3 mark with West Mifflin.
Mohawk (13-3) will meet Brentwood at 3 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny. The seventh-seeded Lady Warriors placed second in Section 5 with a 10-2 record. Their lone league losses came against section champ Riverside.
Junior pitcher Jaki Bender owns a 12-3 mark in the circle for Mohawk with 72 strikeouts.
The 10th-seeded Lady Spartans (9-4) finished second in Section 4 with a 7-3 record.
Shenango (14-6) will oppose Sto-Rox (13-4) at 5 p.m. Thursday at Shaler. The Lady Vikings are ranked No. 5 in the WPIAL in Class A by the Post-Gazette and seeded fifth in the playoffs as well.
The 12th-seeded Lady Wildcats are led by junior Kim Burdett. Burdett owns a .569 batting average with four home runs. Sophomore Jenna DeLuca is next with a pair of homers.
Freshman Macy Rubin is 14-6 in the circle with a 3.19 earned run average. Rubin has 133 strikeouts as well.
Sto-Rox placed second in Section 1 with a 12-2 record.