Good things come to an end for North Hills softball team

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Saturday, May 20, 2023 | 11:01 AM


While the ending may have been bitter, North Hills softball coach Libby Gasior sees the sweetness in the 2023 season.

The Indians ran through the regular season with powerful bats in a high-scoring offense and showed flashes of remarkable resilience before their first-round loss to South Fayette May 15.

As the No. 5 seed, North Hills had its season ended with a 14-4 record thanks to the upset by the No. 12 seed. The tone was set early in the game with a Lions home run on the first pitch thrown and with the Indians falling into an early 3-0 hole.

South Fayette came ready to play,” Gasior said. “They played really well. … We played well too, but we got off to a slow start.

“It would’ve been easy to get knocked out with that kind of an early punch. To answer that, I was really, really proud of them.”

For Gasior, seeing her team rally back was nothing new.

“It kind of fits with the way our season went,” she said. “They gave everything they had and, in some regards, played over their heads at times and played better than some people expected them to.”

Midway through the season, North Hills pulled out its most improbable win of the year. After trailing Plum 13-4 late in a game on April 21, the Indians rallied back to win, 15-14, in the team’s Youth Night game in front of a large crowd.

“It really did feel like a playoff atmosphere,” Gasior said. “There were kids everywhere. I was like, ‘This could be really embarrassing, or you guys could score some runs.’ And they really stepped up. … It was a lot of fun to coach that game.”

Offensively, the team scored 185 runs in 18 games and was paced by a trio of seniors with multiple years of experience in Hanna Murphy, Alyvia Merz and Brenna Westwood.

“They were all staples,” Gasior said. “But, at the end of (the playoff loss), I had a freshman pitcher and freshman catcher playing. In those spots, experience really makes a difference.

“But offensively, I was pretty happy with the effort they went out all year and gave. It’s fun when you hit the ball.”

Gasior watched as a strong group of eight freshmen and six sophomores developed into reliable pieces of the lineup and pitching equation.

“On paper, we looked experienced, age-wise,” she said. “We had a number of seniors in the starting lineup. But in reality, only three or four of them had varsity experience from last year.”

Among those who stepped up was sophomore first baseman Addyson Wrigley, who posted a .525 batting average.

Another sophomore, Alexa Edmunds, took over in the circle.

“She had a really good bat for us last year and continued with that, and grew a lot as a pitcher,” Gasior said, adding that there were some trials for the young arm. “Some of it is the definition of growing pains. It was hard to watch at times because you knew she cared. But I really feel like in the end, she’s going to look back and see that growth as real potential.”

A freshman, Abby Sutton, took over as the primary catcher and also served as the No. 2 pitcher. When she came out from behind the plate — as she did late against South Fayette — a classmate, Lily Adamski, took over.

It all culminated in valuable learning experiences for next year’s nucleus, which will try to replace the six departing seniors.

“I’m so excited,” Gasior said. “It’s always bittersweet at the end of the year. But with this senior group, I coached a lot of them in basketball in middle school, since they were 12. That’s a really cool feeling to have as a coach.

“I’m so excited for the freshman group coming up, because they’ve got the leadership from those kids who had 100% bought into our program.”

While Gasior is looking forward to the future, saying goodbye to those graduating takes on a different meaning for her this time around.

“They were freshmen when covid hit, so that gave them the push that every moment is critical and to enjoy every moment of everything you do,” she said. “This senior group took that to every aspect of their life.

“They’ve meant so much to the community and so much to the district. They’ve been a special group.”

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