Expectations are high for Norwin softball team

Monday, March 21, 2022 | 4:37 PM

Satisfied is not a word you want to associate with the Norwin softball team heading into the 2022 season.

After losing three straight times in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals, the Lady Knights want to finally see how the other half lives.

“We want to put a banner up on the wall,” senior pitcher Angelina Pepe said.

Norwin returns a handful of starters from a team that won the program’s first outright section title. Canon-McMillan ended a playoff run in the semis.

The Lady Knights begin the season ranked No. 2 in the TribLive HSSN rankings.

“We still have a lot of things to figure out,” coach Brian Mesich said. “We’re looking at positions and strengths to figure out who goes where.”

One of the best power hitters in the classification returns in junior Maddie Kessler, who will move to catcher, her natural position.

Kessler hit .509 with 10 home runs, 24 RBIs and 20 runs as a sophomore. She is known for launching moon-shot homers.

“The big motivation is to make it farther than we did,” Pepe said. “If everyone has that mindset, we should be able to do that.”

Pepe, a Clarion commit, gives the Knights experience in the circle and at the plate, and sure-gloved senior Olivia Mastrili returns in center field, along with senior infielder Mallory Wensel.

“Cohesiveness is something we’re hoping to have,” Mesich said. “If we can come together and the girls can play their roles, we could be good. I am anxiously excited, but we have a lot of work to do.”

An addition should help, too. Junior Alyssa McCormick, a pitcher and outfielder, transferred from Thomas Jefferson where she was an all-section player last season in Class 5A.

“Ang and Maddie, they’re the foundation,” Mesich said. “It will be nice to have Ang and Alyssa, maybe as a 1-2. We’ll see how things go.”

Norwin showed plenty of home run potential last season and that could continue, but Mesich doesn’t want to rely on the long ball.

“You can’t live on dingers,” he said. “We have to smooth out some edges and be able to score in different ways.”

Juniors Emma Novotnak and Juliana Shimko are additional contributors, with Shimko figuring in as the third pitcher.

Sophomore Bailey Snowberger also could play a role as she recovers from a knee injury.

Norwin was having trouble using its full home field because the outfield was wringing wet after the snow thaw.

The team only had been able to use the turf infield. The outfield is natural grass.

Mesich’s daughter, Brianna, is helping him coach this season.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.


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