Seton Hill to showcase campus, softball program at WPIAL title games
For the better part of two decades, the WPIAL softball championships have been played at Cal (Pa.)’s Lilley Field. It’s an established postseason tradition that rivals any in the league.
But because of renovations at Lilley Field — the installation of artificial turf among them — the venue will not be available for this year’s finals.
Instead, the finals are coming to Westmoreland County.
The WPIAL sought bids for a new venue and Seton Hill in Greensburg won out. The Griffins’ all-artificial turf complex will host six title games May 30-31.
Pitt’s Vartabedian Field at Petersen Sports Complex, which has a turf outfield, also was considered.
WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley visited Seton Hill and took a liking to the venue saying sight lines “will be equal to, if not better than,” those at Cal.
The venue change is likely only a one-year deal. But while the games are in town, Seton Hill can use the occasion to showcase its campus and softball program.
“It is a great opportunity for recruiting and also for the rest of the student body to see the campus,” Seton Hill softball coach Bill Monstrola said. “I feel we have a lot to offer academically and athletically. It will be a good experience and one that the university has committed resources to. We’ve built it, and they are coming.”
Seton Hill’s field does not have permanent seating, but Monstrola said portable bleachers from other campus fields will be used for the WPIAL title games.
The finals at Seton Hill are alluring to county players, particularly for those who will play on the same field in college. Mt. Pleasant senior Meadow Uncapher, for instance, is a Griffins recruit. Her team is loaded with talent after winning a PIAA Class 4A championship last year so it would not be a surprise to see the Vikings make the WPIAL finals.
“It’s very exciting and just one more reason to work hard to get to the WPIAL finals,” Uncapher said. “I hope it will be the first of many wins on their diamond for me.”
Taking a district title in their backyard would carry extra significance for Mt. Pleasant, or any local team.
Hempfield coach Bob Kalp, whose team has won three consecutive WPIAL titles, prefers a dirt infield, but won’t complain if the Spartans make another trip to the finals and can celebrate in the carpet.
“I’d be happy to get to play there this year; that would mean we made the championship game,” he said. “It is a great site to watch a game. For us, it would be really close. They have batting and pitching areas and plenty of warm-up space on the empty field behind the playing field. It’s better than using (Pitt) field and fighting that traffic.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BillBeckner.