2018 WPIAL Playoff First Impressions

It’s the best time of the year. Teams are getting hot at the perfect time, the best players are shining in the biggest moments, and the WPIAL Playoff Brackets have officially been released. This year, more than ever before, we are going to provide you with a significant amount of playoff information. During the upcoming days, you will see our in-depth breakdowns, games to watch, and other unique takes on everything that could possibly happen on the road to Consol.

For now, we are going to go conference by conference describing our opinions after a quick glance at the bracket. The breakdowns below are just our first impressions, but will be described in a heavier fashion later on.

Let’s get down to business, starting with 1A.


  • Vincentian has been at the top of our list all season long, and rightfully so they are the top WPIAL seed. UCONN commit, Kyler Fedko, has been an absolute monster at the dish hitting at a ridiculous pace that makes him the most dominant force 1A has to offer.


  • Vincentian was handed a 9-8 loss earlier in the year to section rival, Union, who is one of our major teams to watch in this field of 12. However, Union will have a tough track to make it to the potential rematch. First, they would most likely have to get through the likes of Monessen, and then G.C.C., which are two squads that are very tough to beat.
  • Sleeper pick for this group is 100% Jeanette. The defending 1A WPIAL Champs put together an impressive 10 game win streak earlier in the year, and are easily capable of repeating for the gold. They are on a two game skid right now, taking L’s from GCC and Monessen, but a first round matchup against Leechburg should put them right back on track.
  • Our deep, deep, deep, sleeper is Cornell. The Raiders were highly overlooked all season long, and this Blackstone kid can really play ball. Cornell will have a tough road ahead going up against a solid West Greene team, and then the top dawg in Vincentian, but we like what we are seeing out of the Raiders this season.


  • #3 Neshannock is phenomenal, #2 North Catholic is a group of absolute BALL PLAYERS, but it looks like no one can come close to taking down the powerhouse that is #1 Serra Catholic. Serra has one loss all season, and it came in a 4-3 fashion against one of the best teams in 3A (Avonworth). They are playing at a different level right now, and their 19-1 record shows what they are fully capable of, which is acquiring another gold medal.
  • If there is one Underdog team in this group I am taking Shenango. They got off to a bit of a rocky start this season, but finished out in a very strong fashion. I like their draw, and think they have more than enough talent to play for a medal in Washington.
  • We want, we want, we want a CWNC vs Neshannock final four contest. These section rivals have already gotten into two major battles earlier this season with CWNC coming out on top both times. I am not calling it now, but know that Neshannock could make a third matchup very intriguing if the oppurtunity presents itself.


  • Honestly, while taking a quick glance at the 3A bracket I am pretty disappointed. There are several teams I really like out of this group and think they could scrap together a nice playoff run, however they are all on the same side this year. The heavy favorite is Riverside who has dominated on their path to a 15-1 record. But, they will have to go up against a winner of Steel Valley/Charleroi, two teams that are both very good and know how to win come playoff time, and then take down #4 seeded Brownsville who is 12-2 on the year and easily won section 3.
  • The WPIAL rewarded Avonworth and South Side Beaver for having to deal with Riverside twice a year, giving both teams the respective #2 and #3 seeds. Don’t get me wrong, I think Avonworth is the second best team in 3A, and should have no trouble making their way to Consol. I am very curious to see how SSB holds up.
  • Looking quickly at this field of 12, I could easily see it playing out in a chalk format. Higher seeds all the way through with the top two powerhouses battling for a third time this season under the bright lights of Consol Energy Park.


  • I am all on board for the 4A playoffs. This group is as deep as you could ever imagine and will create some very entertaining ball games.
  • With that being said, Blackhawk is incredible. 16-1, 14-0 in section, two absolute studs in Turconi and McClymonds. It is going to be extremely tough to take these guys down.
  • You know how just above I said 3A will play out like chalk? Yeah, I am taking the latter for this conference. Give me South Park, give me New Castle, and throw in some Hopewell all to take games in round one from the higher seeds. You might call it crazy, but with this season I am calling it a comeback.
  • All three of these teams started off their seasons roughly. South Park was one of the top teams we had our eye on this preseason, and found their way back to playoff contention with an 8 game winning streak to finish the season. New Castle is a tough group of guys who really believe in their abilities this year. They started off section play 0-3, and answered that call going 9-2. Hopewell is very similar to our opinion of South Park: they have shown glimmers of greatness, but have also struggled mightily. I am a big believer in Joe Rock, Ohio commit, and think he can guide the Vikings towards the Elite Eight.



  • Moon had never once been #1 on our Power Rankings, they have gone up to as high as #2, but never controlled the top spot. The Tigers slid into the premier position by winning 13 of their last 15 contests. During that span, they handed West Allegheny their first loss, and beat the likes of 6A strongholds, Mt. Lebo and Norwin. Playoffs is a lot about pitching, and the Tigers have two Arms, Maue and Schoeneweis, who are more than capable of dominating a ball game.
  • After the Tigers, there are three teams that I would not bat an eye if they raised a WPIAL banner at the end of this season. Those squads are #3 North Hills, #4 Laurel Highlands, and #5 Mars. North Hills was the consensus #1 for majority of the season and hosts a 17-3 record. Laurel Highlands surprised us all on their way to a 15-3 season, but proved they are a fantastic ball club. And Mars, our preseason #1 that could not figure out how to win, ends their year on a 5 game dub streak. Like I said before that pitching is the key, Mars has two D1 arms controlling their staff, Bednar and Craska.
  • WPIAL Fans, if you want the best game to watch out of the entire lineup for May 15th, headover to Fox Chapel and watch #8 Hampton take on #9 Gateway. Two legit squads that have had awesome seasons.


  • Vanderbilt, Penn State, Kent State. Three Major Division 1 programs who all have commits playing for none other than the Pine Richland Rams. And yet, PR is not the one seed and they failed to win their section. Instead, the top dawg is Central Catholic. The Vikings won their last 7 games, finishing with a 14-4 record in the toughest section in 6A.


  • Now with that being said, Pine is still one of our MAJOR teams to watch out for. They are obviously battle tested at this point, and with that much raw talent in one lineup it is going to be a difficult team to beat. They would not have to matchup with Central until the finals, but wow would that make for a great WPIAL Championship.
  • One of the coolest stories of the year has been Bethel Park’s trek to the top. The #2 overall seed was not a highly touted team during the preseason, but Eastern Michigan commit, Justin Meis, has dominated Section 3 this season en route to a 17-3 record for the Hawks.
  • My favorite team to watch come playoff time are the Canon Mac Big Macs. Year in, and year out, their lineup is always filled with tough outs. They are grinders and know what to do in order to squeeze out tough ball games. This year, it is not just the lineup teams have to look out for. Their pitching staff has a huge presence on the mound that should contribute greatly towards their chances of making a deep playoff run.

These were just our first impressions and there will be a lot more playoff information coming your way! Make sure you hit the subscribe button on the left hand side of the screen, and continue to tune in on Twitter and Instagram @wpial_baseball to stay up to date on everything you need to know before the postseason officially gets underway!

Friday Feature – Josh Spiegel

Measurables. It’s a topic that is highly discussed in baseball when analyzing a player’s potential. Scouts love to highlight a stud’s ability to produce a fast 60 time, blow the cover off the ball with a great exit velo, and submit a pop-time below two seconds. Measurables and statistics are the backbone of scouting and recruiting, and have always been a gigantic part of our country’s pastime.

If you are searching across the baseball landscape of Western Pennsylvania you would not have to go very far to find a player who thrives in this category of the game. His name is Josh Spiegel.

spiegel catching

Josh is a catcher from Penn Trafford who has not only dominated the WPIAL competition, but also has found incredible success on a national scale. He has recorded a pop time as low as 1.8, hosts an exit velo well above the 90 mph mark, and as catcher is able to run a 6.7, 60. 

Spiegel tweet.png

I had the opportunity to sit down with Josh and talk to him about several different topics. Here is what he had to say.

Q : Let’s start by talking about your team at Penn Trafford this season. So far you guys have gotten off to a solid start in section play, and look like you are on the right track to be one of the top teams in section 2 by years end. What’s the mindset around the team right now, and what are the team’s goals for this season?  

J : Yeah, we have played pretty well through the first part of section play. We have some big tests coming up this week, but for our team we are just trying to take it one game at a time and have as much fun as possible while not trying to do too much. Our goals for this year is to win the section title, then make a good run in the playoffs and have a great chance to win a WPIAL championship.

Q : Four of your next five contests come against top 10 teams. What does your team have to do in order to be successful against the tough competition within your section?

J : For our team to have success against the tough competition we have to constantly focus on just grinding out at bats, putting runs up early, throwing strikes and always getting ahead of hitters. A major focus is with making our opponents hit our guys best out pitch, rather than getting a hold of a pitch the hitters are looking for. Our team has to always remain confident in ourselves knowing that we have a great all around team in every aspect of the game.

Q : Shifting the focus over to you personally now. What is your own focus this season? What do you expect from yourself and hope to achieve before you leave Penn Trafford?

J : I just want to focus on staying relaxed. I never want to put  too much pressure on myself and I know what I am capable of doing when I am in the right mindset. I want to win a section and wpial championship with my brothers as well. We are a very close team this year, and it would be something special to win it all my last year here with those guys.

Q : There is not too many WPIAL players who have gone to Oklahoma State like you will be this upcoming fall. What was the entire recruiting process was like for you, and what helped you make the decision to commit there?

J : The recruiting process was really great for me. I got the opportunity to visit a lot of amazing places, and meet some great coaches. What ultimately made me choose OSU was their staff. They are some of the best coaches in the country and it felt like home when I was there. I felt it was the best place for me to develop and hopefully make it to the major leagues afterwards.

Q : Speaking of the major leagues, you have been announced as a top prospect by platforms like Perfect Game, MLB Draft Pipeline etc., has there been any sort of insight provided to you about a potential draft position this year? Have you been talking to pro teams about going straight from high school, or do you think you will definitely be a Cowboy in the fall?

J : Yes I have talked to a some teams, and they have sent scouts out to watch me play this year. My first choice is to go to college, but if I do get drafted, I would talk it over with my parents and choose the option that is the best fit for me.

Q : Alright Josh, onto the most important part of this interview, the rapid fire around. You ready?

J : Absolutely! Let’s do it.

Q : If Josh Spiegel was stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one thing what would he bring?

J : Drinkable Water

Q : What future career would you want to be in excluding professional baseball?

J : That’s a tough one but I would love to be a GM one day.

Q : A GM for which team? Of who’s your favorite MLB team?

J : Any team at all, but my favorite are the hometown Pirates.

Q : If you were the Pirates GM would you have traded Cutch?

J : Looking at it now I think it was good for him, and the team, but I probably would have let him stay and maybe done it at the trade deadline.

Q : Switching gears to a really serious topic, what is your favorite meal?

J : Steak, mashed potatoes, and corn!

Q :What’s the number one thing you do in your free time?

J : I love to hunt and fish!

Q : Is there any last things you want to tell the WPIAL world, or make any shoutouts before we close it out?

J : Yes sir, thank you for picking me as your Friday Feature, I had a great time talking with you!


Make sure your follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball – and continue to check in with our blog to see the most updated content on everything in the world of WPIAL Baseball. See you at Consol.


Week 4 – Games to Watch

We are officially into the fourth week of WPIAL baseball action. So far this season has been extremely exciting, with some surprise teams establishing their rank early in section play. Usually right around this time is when the true colors of each team start to show. Pretenders fall to the back, contenders rise to the opportunity, and the powerhouses assert their dominance.

Monday starts off hot with top 5 matchups in five of the six conferences, and a showdown between the top two squads in 3A, Riverside and Avonworth. Moving on 48 hours later, Wednesday plays host to the likes of undefeated 4A powerhouses, Freeport and Knoch. We are also very intrigued with the GCC/Jeanette matchup in 1A. The defending WPIAL champs play host to a very hot GCC squad that believes they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run. Rounding out the weekend on the 20th, WPIAL fans will get the opportunity to watch a 6A Non-Section showdown between #1 Butler and #4 Hempfield. Also, the 2A heavy favorite, Serra Catholic, will have to travel to the likes of #7 Carlynton in a tough road matchup.  

Here is the full Week 4 – Games To Watch List:

April 16th


#2 Pine Richland @ #5 North Allegheny


#4 West Allegheny @ #5 Moon Area

#3 Laurel Highlands @ #7 Gateway


#1 Riverside @ #2 Avonworth


#3 CWNC @ #2 Neshannock


#4 Union @ #5 Eden Christian


April 18th


#7 Penn Trafford @ #6 Norwin


#6 Hampton @ #2 Mars


#4 Freeport @ #2 Knoch

#6 West Mifflin @ #9 South Park


#5 Steel Valley @ #7 Shady Side Academy

#2 Avonworth @ #8 South Side Beaver’

#3 Brownsville @ #4 Charleroi


#5 OLSH @ #3 CWNC

#6 Bishop Canevin @ #7 Carlynton


#1 Vincentian @ #5 Eden Christian

#2 GCC @ #3 Jeanette


April 20th


#4 Hempfield @ #1 Butler*

#3 Canon Mac @ #8 USC


#6 Hampton @ #1 North Hills

#3 Laurel Highlands @ #8 Franklin Regional


#7 Ringgold @ #6 West Mifflin


#1 Riverside @ #8 South Side Beaver


#8 Laurel @ #5 OLSH

#1 Serra Catholic @ #7 Carlynton


#2 GCC @ #8 Monessen

#6 Quigley Catholic @ #9 Rochester


*Non-Section Matchup

Friday Feature – Connor Ollio

We are starting a new segment here at WPIAL Baseball, where we showcase one of the WPIAL’s top ball players. To start this new addition to our lineup, we decided to interview Butler’s very own, Connor Ollio.


If you have yet to hear about what is brewing in Butler this year, you better start tuning in. The Golden Tornadoes are off to an incredible 4-0 start to their season, with one of these wins coming in upset fashion over the heavy 6A favorite, Pine Richland. Ollio is a force all over the field. His fastball has already been recorded above the 90 mph mark, on the flip side he showcases gap-to-gap power and quick hands, and also carries the utility skill-set to thrive at any position on the diamond.

All of these talents are extremely impressive, but what is most intriguing with Connor is his maturity as a ball player and person. He was a part of the 15u, USA baseball team that brought home the Pan Am gold in 2015. After his final season at Butler, he will move on to play for Mike Fox and the baseball powerhouse that is the University of North Carolina.  


I had a chance to discuss a number of topics with Connor, and here is what he had to say.

Q : First, I just wanted to start talking about your team at Butler this season. Obviously you guys are off to an awesome start, what’s the mindset throughout the team right now during this period of success?

C : We get after it every day. Our goal is trying to make ourselves a little bit better each time we play/practice. Most importantly we all play for each other, and always have each other’s back.

Q : We had you guys highly ranked, and knew you were going to be tough to beat, but as a team did you know this season had a legitimate chance to be a really special season? Is the mantra this season WPIAL Title or bust?

C : Absolutely. We’re a tight group that’s been playing together for a long time. We knew we had something special, we just had to work hard and put it all together.

Q : 6A Section 1 is kind of like the group of death in that conference. All 6 of the squads are competitive year in and year out and have flirted with the top 10 in our rankings at one point or another during the early weeks. Is there a particular team that you guys really look forward to going up against? Like a sort of rivalry you guys circle on the schedule that you want to win just a little bit more than the other contests?

C : Every section game is a huge game of course, but we definitely like to play Pine. It’s always a fun game.

Q : Yes it’s definitely a potential 6A championship matchup, so we love seeing how it fares during the regular season. So now on to you a little personally. Who were some of the final schools you were deciding between for your commitment, and what made you ultimately choose the Tar Heels?

C : I had it narrowed down to UNC, Wake Forest and Duke. I could really see myself succeeding both on and off the field in chapel hill. I love campus, the coaching staff, and all the facilities there

Q : We like to promote hotbeds for college recruiting we can for the younger players who have not committed yet can see where they might have the most success getting seen. Was there a particular place or tournament that UNC saw you play at?

C : They ended up coming down to Georgia to see me play in a summer ball tournament, and recruited me right after that.

Q : Ok, rapid fire time, you ready to go?

C: Let’s do it.

Q : What’s the go to song/artist on CO’s playlist prior to game time?

C: Oh man that’s tough haha. Uhh I’d probably go with Run This Town by Jay-Z with Rihanna and Kanye.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?

C: Sandlot

Q : Xbox or Playstation?

C : I don’t play many video games but I had an Xbox so I’ll go with that

Q : Favorite professional sports team?

C : Red Sox

Q : Favorite professional athlete?

C : Mike trout

Q : Anything you want to say to the WPIAL Baseball fans or any shoutouts you want to give before we cut it off?

C : Haha that’s okay. Hopefully I can save the shoutout for the end of the season. Thank you for the opportunity, this was great!

Make sure your follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball and continue to check in with our blog to see the most updated content on everything in the world of WPIAL Baseball. See you at Consol.