Norwin baseball team loaded with experience
By: Nathan Smith
Sunday, March 17, 2019 | 6:27 PM
Experience should be on the Norwin baseball team’s side this season.
The Knights are looking to rebound from going 7-8 in 2018. While that team entered the year with little experience, the 2019 squad returns six starters.
“We will still have a mix of older and younger guys, but most now have varsity experience,” Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski said. “Overall this is a pretty hard working group with a good knowledge of the game.”
The pitching staff returns several arms. Billy Kerston will lead the Norwin pitching staff. The senior who will continue his football career at Slippery Rock led the pitching staff with a 3-2 record last season.
Sophomore Jayden Walker (1-2) is a 6-foot-3 left-hander and was a second-team all-section selection last season. Junior Aidan Shephard (2-2) is another left-hander who could see time on the mound.
“We have all of our pitching back from last year, which should help, but we just have to wait and see if they have progressed,” Liebdzinski said. “We also have some new guys and younger guys that will be pushing for time on the mound.”
Senior Kristian Kubacka returns behind the plate.
The infield saw some shuffling because of graduation. The coaching staff moved senior Owen Sabol from third base to shortstop. Sabol is a Seton Hill commit. Sophomore Alex Gabauer will start at third base. Senior Logan Liebdzinski returns to second base. He was an all-section honorable-mention selection last season.
The Knights still are working out who will start at first base. Walker or sophomore Nick Fleming could fill the role.
“Our infield defense should be very strong with Logan and Owen up the middle,” Liebdzinski said. “First base is still a question mark, but I think whoever ends up there will be solid.”
Norwin also returns a chunk of its outfield. Senior Derek Turcovski returns to center field, and Shephard will spend time in left field. The team still is feeling out right field, but Fleming could see time there.
The Knights have the potential to be successful at the plate. The team averaged 5.8 runs last season and returns the bulk of its top hitters from last season, including Walker, Sabol and Shephard.
“I expect us to be fine offensively and defensively this season,” Liebdzinski said. “I like our lineup on both sides of the ball. As usually is the case, I think our season will depend on our pitching. I hope we have guys that are ready to step in and do the job.”
The Knights enter the season with the same to-do list it has every season: qualify for the postseason, win the section and compete for the WPIAL championship. But to accomplish these goals, the Knights need to avoid the injury bug that has bit the team in recent seasons.
“We have had trouble staying healthy the last two years, especially on the mound,” Liebdzinski said. “But if we can (stay healthy) and our pitching progresses, I don’t think any of those goals are unrealistic.”
Norwin is scheduled to start the season March 22 with a road trip to Fox Chapel.