North Hills softball riding hot streak

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Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 7:14 PM


North Hills might be the hottest team in WPIAL Class 6A softball. The Indians had the classification’s longest winning streak at eight games.

Among their victories, the Indians have defeated playoff teams North Allegheny, Norwin, Seneca Valley and Class 5A Shaler.

Despite its impressive play, however, North Hills (12-6, 8-6) did not qualify for the playoffs. The players have known their fate for more than a week but have won three games since. For coach Libby Gasior, it’s tough to know her girls won’t get a shot at the postseason, especially at when they are playing their best.

“When we were mathematically eliminated, it was a disappointment,” she said. “But it was a disappointment that I hadn’t felt yet as a coach. I’ve been in different situations with teams, but this group is playing their best ball and won’t have an opportunity to do it in playoffs.

“We knew we’d have to win out and made it happen. As a coach, it’s an awesome thing to see them accomplish. We beat some tough teams, too. But we can’t make Seneca lose another game. ‘Bittersweet’ comes to mind to describe the end of this season, but it’s more sweet than anything because this group has been really fun to watch.”

Gasior said she can point to a few turning points. One was a 12-11, nine-inning victory over Seneca Valley. It was their third win in a row during this streak, and the Raiders led the Indians, 7-0, at one point.

Another big moment came when sophomore Mel Taylor returned to the lineup, providing Gasior’s team with a much-needed spark.

“She’s just so talented. She’s very athletic and has very quick hands. She’s laid back, nonchalant but loves to win and is super competitive,” Gasior said. “She came back and gave us another bat and provided us with just the extra flexibility we needed to move things around in the field, and with our lineup, to where we want them to be.”

Junior Shay Hagerman has been key contributor on offense and defense. Senior Leslie Rozanski also has been vital to the team’s success. She is hitting better than .400 and has four homers.

Another promising aspect of North Hills’ play has been its youth. Between the varsity and JV teams, there are 14 freshmen, so, at the very least, the team is putting its 6A rivals on notice for next season.

“On paper, we had experience coming into this year, but we had a lot of inexperience in places as well,” Gasior said. “The on-field chemistry really started to click in the second half of the season. You can tell every single one of them believes in it now. We learned the hard way, but it’s been great to see them find out what they’re capable of.”

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