Norwin softball looking to overcome soggy, slow start to season

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 9:01 AM

Frustrated and chasing consistency, Norwin softball coaches and players have felt like pulling the lever on the escape hatch lately.

Make it stop.

The Lady Knights are not asking for pity. They just want to practice and play at home.

The season has had more stops than starts with rainy — and snowy — weather compounding an already trying problem: unplayable conditions on their home field.

A turf infield, which coach Brian Mesich helped to install — he cut the large “N” himself out of leftover carpet from the football stadium — isn’t the problem. A natural grass outfield is not draining, so standing water is cutting the field in half for practices and is not getting a passing grade for games.

There could be a home game Friday against North Allegheny, but the team isn’t holding its breath.

“It’s four days, play, four days, practice … ” Mesich said. “It’s been tough to get any momentum going. The only way we’re going to improve is if we see more live pitching.”

Norwin (2-4, 1-3), with a potent, power-hitting lineup, had played six games through April 14, but had been on their field only twice — for a scrimmage and a game against Penn-Trafford — since tryouts.

They could not host Hempfield last week, so their Section 2-6A game was moved to the Spartans’ field.

Top-ranked Hempfield won 10-7 despite three Norwin home runs, including two by senior infielder Mallory Wensel.

“Our outfield has not been ideal,” Wensel said. “We have had to split up practices. We have had some nice individual (accomplishments), but I feel like we’re beginning to grow closer as a team.”

The Lady Knights rebounded nicely the next day, clipping Latrobe, 3-2, on the road. Junior Madie Kessler and sophomore Kira Phipps homered, and sophomore Bailey Snowberger went 3 for 4.

The Hempfield loss was perhaps the best snapshot of Norwin’s potential as a fence-clearing lineup that can flip a game with one swing. Although, finishing matters. Early leads can evaporate quickly.

The Lady Knights, a semifinal team last season, were ranked No. 5 in Class 6A heading into the Hempfield game.

“That was a good, quality game,” Mesich said of the Hempfield matchup. “I am happy with how we battled. Like I said, once we start seeing more live pitching, we should be OK. We just have to dig ourselves out of a hole.”

Senior pitcher Angelina Pepe hit a two-run homer in the loss.

Norwin dealt with a rash of injuries that seemed to come in waves. Snowberger, senior center fielder Olivia Mastrilli and catcher Kessler needed treatment.

Snowberger, who appeared to tweak her knee (she sustained a knee injury during basketball season), returned to the game, as did Kessler, who took a scrape to the chin on a slide.

Kessler later tweeted, “Yesterdays game was full of injuries, I slid into second and got a chunk taken out of my lip and proceeded to play the last 4 innings of the game and returning the next day with a home run! Boy, I love this game.”

Mesich, a trainer at Norwin, put tape all the way around her head to cover the laceration.

Mastrilli (ankle) left the game and did not come back.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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