No. 5 Norwin rolls past Bethel Park in WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | 9:29 PM
Slightly perturbed by its WPIAL playoff seeding, Norwin took out its frustration on — and laid the aluminum to — Bethel Park.
“We beat Hempfield twice so I feel like maybe we should have been up a little higher,” Norwin junior third baseman Victoria Shimko said. “But what can you do?”
Well, for one, you can pound the softball to the tune of 15 runs and 11 hits in your opening tournament game. That might get a point across.
Fifth-seeded Norwin put its foot down offensively from the start Wednesday and nearly mercy-ruled No. 4 Bethel Park before settling on a 15-6 victory in a Class 6A quarterfinal at Gateway.
“We were really producing today,” said Shimko, who went 3 for 4 with four RBIs. “This group can go very far. We have such a better chance than we did last year. We have more talent and effort.”
Norwin (13-7) advances to the semifinals for the second straight year and will face No. 1 North Allegheny (14-6), a team it was swept by in Section 2 play, next Wednesday.
Bethel Park, which dug too deep a hole, is finished at 12-4.
Four-time defending champion Hempfield (14-6) and Seneca Valley (15-5) will meet in the other semifinal.
The Knights erupted for five runs in a lengthy second inning and six more in the third to take command — that, after the game was tied 2-2 early in the second.
Sophomore Bailee Bertani’s gap-shot, two-run double broke it open for the Knights, giving them a 6-2 lead. The momentum spilled into the third as junior Leah Yoder ripped a single over the center fielder’s head and senior Alexandra Brentzel delivered a bases-loaded, three-run double to the fence with two down to abruptly make it 11-2.
Brentzel also had four RBIs.
“Getting some runs early is key for us,” Norwin coach Brian Mesich said. “The biggest thing is confidence at the plate. You could see it fostering and fostering. Everybody was getting good swings. If the pitch is there, our girls can hit it long. We did today. Tremendous offensive output for us.”
Norwin chased Bethel Park starting pitcher Delaney Nagy in the fourth after junior Carly Cook’s RBI double gave the Knights a 13-2 advantage. Two more runs came home on Shimko’s two-run single.
“I was nervous because we hadn’t played in six days,” Mesich said. “I’m happy that we opened it up and let it loose.”
Norwin appeared headed to the mercy rule, especially after a slick double play to end the fourth. Bertani caught a flyout in right and zinged the ball to Yoder at first for the 9-3 putout.
Bethel Park, though, scratched at the deficit in the next frame. After Ali Sniegocki and Gianna Sciullo singled, Reagan Milliken smacked a two-run single, one of seven hits for the Black Hawks.
After a sacrifice fly by Sandra Soltes, relief pitcher Kayla Miehl followed with a towering, solo homer to make it 15-6.
Norwin kept its cool as the mild comeback took shape.
“We realized we were up by so much, we didn’t really need to talk,” Shimko said. “We had the mindset that if we don’t make errors, make the outs and keep hitting, we’re going to win this game.”
Sydney Lokay pitched 4 2⁄3 innings for the Knights before giving way to Angelina Pepe, who retired seven straight to close it out.
“We got the win and I’m happy,” Mesich said. “It’s a complete game, but we could have taken care of business a smidge earlier … but I am super happy with their effort.”
Milliken had two hits and three RBIs for Bethel Park.
Norwin is anxious to get another shot at North Allegheny.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times, and it’s hard to lose to a team three times,” Mesich said. “We have confidence coming in. We need to play a complete game — our game — stay true to that.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .