The WPIAL approved new alignments and formats for baseball and softball beginning with the 2021 season.
The biggest change involves pitching. Under the new format, section teams will play each other in a two-game, home-and-home series on consecutive days. This will prevent teams from throwing their ace against the same section opponent twice in a season.
In the past, teams were scheduled to play each other once at home and once on the road, but not on back-to-back dates. Unless there were rainouts, games were spaced out so as to have a first- and second-half of the season.
Bob Bozzuto, who is chairman of the WPIAL’s baseball committee said the idea had been talked about for years.
“It eliminates a good team always seeing an opponent’s No. 1 pitcher. Now, you’ll face him only one time,” said Bozzuto.
He said baseball is designed to be played in a series format.
Section games will be scheduled Mondays and Tuesdays.
The WPIAL also unveiled section alignments for baseball and softball.
In baseball, the most significant change has Bethel Park and Peters Township dropping to Class 5A while rivals such as Baldwin, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair remain in Class 6A.
While 6A has been reduced from 19 to 12 teams, Class 5A will consist of 25 teams in four sections. The Black Hawks and Indians will compete in Section 4 with Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Thomas Jefferson and Trinity.
Chartiers Valley and South Fayette are Class 5A teams and will compete in Section 3 with Moon, North Hills, Shaler and West Allegheny.
South Park and Keystone Oaks compete in Class 3A with 23 teams, spanning four sections.
Class 2A has 26 teams in four sections. Seton LaSalle, which won a WPIAL championship in 2019, will be in Section 4 with Brentwood, Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Clairton and Fort Cherry.
Bishop Canevin will face Geibel, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown and Monessen in Section 2 Class 1A. The other division also includes 10 team.
In softball, Upper St. Clair dropped to Class 5A along with Fox Chapel and North Hills. The Panthers will compete in Section 4 along with Chartiers Valley and South Fayette, Moon, Trinity, West Allegheny and Western Beaver.
Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon and Peters Township along with Baldwin remain in Class 6A, which will have two sections. The other section features: Butler, Hempfield, North Allegheny, Norwin, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.
The WPIAL also approved changes in its playoff format for boys and girls basketball.
Sections with eight teams would add a fifth playoff qualifier.
The WPIAL has three sections with eight teams, two in girls (Section 1, 6A and Section 2, 4A) and one in boys (Section 2, 4A).