The final week of April means section play in WPIAL baseball and softball is winding down.
The schedule is loaded with plenty of key games, including the start of a baseball section showdown between two of the top teams in Class 5A.
North Hills and Shaler have won two of the last four WPIAL 5A championships. Both teams are tied for first place in Section 3-5A with 5-1 section records.
The Indians are 10-2 overall and have won eight of their last nine games, while the Titans check in with a 10-3 record and had won eight straight games before losing back-to-back to West Allegheny and Butler.
While Shaler has been a consistent contender since winning 5A gold in 2019, North Hills has struggled since winning the district title five years ago, missing the playoffs each season since 2018.
Last year, the Indians finished 6-12 and lost twice to the Titans by a combined score of 14-4.
On Monday, the two rivals collide at Matulevic Field in Shaler with the return matchup Tuesday at Herb Field in Ross Township.
Not the only show in town
While the North Hills and Shaler section series is big, there are plenty of others with high stakes starting on Monday.
In fact, the Indians-Titans series isn’t even the only showdown in 5A baseball starting Monday.
In Section 1-4A, Blackhawk visits Montour. Both teams are a perfect 6-0 in the section and have a three-game lead over Central Valley with four section games left. The Cougars are 9-1 while the defending 4A state champion Spartans are 12-1.
In Section 2-4A, Uniontown hosts Latrobe. Both teams are 5-1 in the section and have won seven games overall. The host Red Raiders are 7-3 overall while the Wildcats are 7-5.
In Section 4-4A, Indiana (5-1, 7-4) has a one-game lead over both North Catholic (4-2, 5-6) and Kiski Area (4-2, 7-5). The Little Indians visit the Trojans.
In Section 1-A, Avella (9-2) and California (7-7) are tied for first place with 6-2 section records. Carmichaels (8-3) also only has two section losses with a 4-2 record. The Eagles visit the Mighty Mikes in the first of two.
Softball section showdowns
Not only are Shaler and North Hills planning to square off in a baseball section showdown for first place, the Titans and Indians softball teams meet with at least a share of first place up for grabs.
Shaler has been perfect this spring, with a 6-0 Section 1-5A record and 12-0 overall.
North Hills is 5-1 in the section and 10-1 overall.
The only blemish on the Indians’ record was a 10-2 loss to the Titans on April 5.
The rematch is at Shaler on Monday.
Several other fights for first place will be held around the WPIAL on Monday.
In Section 2-5A, a similar situation takes place as defending champion Armstrong battles Latrobe.
The River Hawks are in first place with a 6-0 section record and 11-1 overall. The Wildcats are 5-1 in the section and 10-1 overall.
Latrobe’s only loss was at Armstrong on April 5, 7-3. The rematch is at Latrobe.
The top four teams in Section 3-3A are separated by a half-game and all four meet Monday.