Senior pitcher comes full circle, leads Norwin into 6A contention

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Gradually, it all started to come back for Alyssa McCormick.

The movement. The rhythm. The velocity.

And don’t forget the most important part: the wins.

The Norwin senior stepped back into the pitching circle after spending last year in the outfield.

Offseason work had her sharp and ready to deliver again.

Before long, she was firing fastballs and rise balls into the strike zone, remembering the rush that comes with controlling the temperature of games.

“I had an idea,” she said about the prospects of becoming the Lady Knight’s ace this season. “I knew I had to perform. We have some freshmen coming up who can push me. I worked a lot on my own in the fall. I feel like I got my velocity back.”

McCormick has been the perfect complement to a potent lineup that has produced 42 extra-base hits, including 15 home runs.

She is 8-1 with a 3.62 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings but also is among the team’s top hitters with a .375 average, three homers and 17 RBIs.

“With Alyssa, as a coach, I can’t ask for anything more from her,” Norwin coach Brian Mesich said. “She is the point of the sword, the driver of the bus.”

McCormick transferred from Thomas Jefferson after her sophomore year because of a family-related move. She said last year was a challenge, but she has become more comfortable in her new surroundings.

“My teammates really helped to bring me along,” McCormick said. “I am not going to lie. Last year was really tough for me.”

Norwin looks to have an offense that could carry it to a playoff run. Although, Class 6A is as competitive as it’s ever been, with nine teams battling in one condensed section.

The Lady Knights (9-2, 7-1) were averaging 9.3 runs.

They knocked off No. 1 Hempfield, 10-8, behind a grand slam from McCormick, who is one big bat in a nine-strong lineup of them.

No. 3-ranked Norwin’s five-game winning streak has it propped up nicely in first place.

“This group is good with systematic things,” Mesich said. “The understand they need to do things for a purpose. We need to do better with two-strike counts. We need to put the ball in play and not always make that big swing.”

Home runs have become a regular occurrence at Norwin’s home field, which became a point of contention last year when the team could not play there because of poor drainage in the outfield.

But there have been improvements — and drier weather — that have allowed the Knights to play at home without issue.

They were 6-0 at home after an 11-2 win over Mt Lebanon last week.

“I feel like we’re collectively hitting as a group,” said McCormick, who committed to Fairmont State. “Last year, we relied on the long ball.

“It’s nice to be able to play at home and have a routine and more structure.”

Mesich said the top five in the batting order are the orchestra making the music.

Junior shortstop and leadoff hitter Bailey Snowberger, a Holy Cross recruit, was hitting .556 with two homers and 22 runs scored.

Snowberger, who has been walked more times than any of her teammates (16), made a highlight catch in a 10-7 win over North Allegheny — a game that Norwin trailed 7-0 after four innings. She has a 1.573 OPS.

Junior Josey Michalski had a .514 average with a team-leading 21 RBIs, and senior Madie Kessler, a St. Francis (Pa.) commit, was hitting .424 with three homers and 15 RBIs.

Michalski went 3 for 4 with a homer and five RBIs against North Allegheny.

Senior first baseman and clean-up hitter Emma Novotnak was off to the best start of her career. The Gannon commit was hitting .429 with two homers and 11 RBIs.

Freshman Abbie Telli doubled and tripled, and junior Brooklyn Kotch and Michalski each had two hits and two RBIs. Kessler launched another homer, a two-run shot, in the win over Mt. Lebanon.

Rachel Minteer also homered against Hempfield as the Knights had nine hits, including two from Snowberger and Michalski.

“Out bats have been on fire, nonstop,” Novotnak said. “We have girls who pick each other up. I went 0 for 3 against Pine-Richland and had a walk. After I struck out, Alyssa came up and hit a three-run homer. If we have a bad inning, we push each other. Coach Mes likes to say after a bad game, ‘flush it’ and move on.”

McCormick and Kessler have formed a connection as battery mates.

“It’s great to have Madie catching me,” McCormick said. “I always know I can trust her.”

As for playing at home regularly again, Novotnak said, “We can defend the ‘N’ again.”

Norwin lost to Hempfield, 5-4, in last year’s WPIAL quarterfinals. The revenge game broke a three-game losing streak against the perennially strong Spartans.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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