Madie Kessler’s 2-homer day lifts No. 3 Norwin past No. 4 North Allegheny

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023 | 8:34 PM


Playing her last game on her home field, Madie Kessler wanted to leave a lasting impression.

So the senior catcher did what she has done so many times before on Norwin’s turf: She hit bombs.

Kessler enjoyed the first home run so much, she hit another one, both on deep drives to left.

Her two-home run, three-RBI day propelled the third-ranked Knights to a 5-2 victory — and a season sweep — of No. 4 North Allegheny on Wednesday in North Huntingdon.

The victory breaks a third-place tie between the teams in the section.

“Home runs get us going,” said Kessler, a St. Francis (Pa.) commit who has nine homers for the season and 24 for her career. “It brings it all in and can be such a big momentum change. It’s like when there is a two-out strikeout with the bases loaded.”

The win virtually locks up the No. 3 seed for Norwin (14-5, 12-4) in the WPIAL 6A playoffs. Seedings and pairings will be released starting at 7 p.m. Thursday at tribhssn.triblive.com.

North Allegheny (14-6, 11-5) likely will be the No. 4 seed out of the one-section classification that sends six of nine teams to the postseason.

“This win boosted our confidence big time,” Kessler said. “It’s a big momentum switch for us.”

Norwin had lost three of its last four games, including a 4-3 upset against Mt. Lebanon and a 2-1 loss to Hempfield.

That bad taste is gone, just in time for the playoffs.

North Allegheny had won six of seven. The Tigers were coming off a 1-0 loss to Seneca Valley and ace pitcher Lexie Hames, who struck out 20.

“There’s some positive juju now,” Norwin coach Brian Mesich said. “I was happy with how we hit the ball. We’re still leaving too many girls on base, but we cut down on mistakes.”

Senior pitcher Alyssa McCormick tossed a complete game, striking out six and walking five. She gave up eight hits.

Kessler hit a solo shot in the first, and McCormick followed with an RBI double for a 2-0 lead.

Junior shortstop Bailey Snowberger, a Holy Cross commit, led off the third with a single and scored on Kessler’s second blast to put Norwin in front 4-0.

North Allegheny left runners at the corners in the fourth but finally touched up McCormick in the fifth.

Senior leadoff hitter Meghan McDonough hit a check-swing double to left and eventually came home on a groundout by sophomore Sammy Plotsko, the losing pitcher.

Junior Anne Melle came on in the third with the Tigers down by four.

Norwin extended its advantage to 5-1 in the fifth. Snowberger led off with a double, then scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Josey Michalski, who also had two hits.

“Bailey is the catalyst to the offense,” Mesich said. “She gets on, and good things happen.”

Norwin rallied from 7-0 down after four innings to beat the Tigers, 10-7, earlier in the season. The Tigers could not return the favor.

They did add a run in the sixth on a sac fly by senior catcher Sadie Kelly to make it 5-2. But that was all the offense Norwin allowed from there.

North Allegheny left eight on base.

McCormick worked out of the sixth with a runner at third, and the Knights regained their balance in the seventh after a one-out single by Plotsko and an error to finish 8-2 at home.

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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