‘Expectations never change’ for talent-rich Norwin baseball team

Monday, March 21, 2022 | 4:01 PM

Norwin is trying to put last baseball season in the rearview mirror, although the Knights still wonder what might have been.

They had one of the most talented teams in WPIAL Class 6A with a host of college-level talent. They earned the No. 2 seed in the playoffs but saw their run end in the semifinals.

“We had the players. We just never meshed into what we could have been,” coach Mike Liebdzinski said. “We’re hopeful we can get another chance and be more comfortable if we do.”

Norwin only has 15 players on the varsity roster, but 11 of them are seniors.

“This is one of our older teams,” Liebdzinski said.

The Knights are ranked No. 3 to open the season.

Leading the way will be senior shortstop Jake Kendro, who has been committed to Tennessee since he was a sophomore.

“We have a lot of strong seniors, and I think we’re going to take charge,” Kendro said. “I know I want to be the best leader I can. We need to stay focused and try not to get ahead of ourselves.”

Other college commits who form the nucleus of the group include senior pitcher Noah Czajkowski (St. Bonaventure), senior catcher Ty Stecko (Mount St. Mary’s), senior right fielder Elijah Dunn (IUP), senior center fielder Jack Whalen (Seton Hill), senior pitcher Sebastian Rosado-Guindin (IUP), and senior left fielder Jake Awenowicz (Gannon).

Awenowicz and junior Justin Weaver are competing for the starting nod in left.

Kendro, Dunn, Slatt and Rosado-Guindin should provide power.

Junior Christian Minto is a third baseman, and junior Ryan Orosz could occupy second.

Other potential contributors include junior Christian Slatt, senior Billy Eger, junior Stephen Rodgers, and sophomore Ty Cupp.

Liebdzinski sees aptitude in his pitching staff, led by Czajkowski as the likely ace. Rosado-Guindin also figures in as a hard-throwing starter.

“We should be strong at the top of the rotation,” Liebdzinski said. “That could be a big strength.”

Awenowicz and Orosz should also work into the mix.

“They can come in and throw strikes,” Liebdzinski said of that pair. “They are good guys to have.”

Wrestler Chase Kranitz, another senior, is working his way back from an ankle injury he suffered at the PIAA championships. The Buffalo wrestling commit was projected as the third starting pitcher, Liebdzinski said.

Norwin finished 14-4 and lost 12-2 to WPIAL runner-up Hempfield in the semis. Don’t be surprised if the Knights and Spartans again battle for the top spot in Section 2.

“The expectations never change,” Liebdzinski said. “We want to compete for the section and get into the playoffs. All you want is to give yourself a chance.”

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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