Sister vs. sister: ‘Sibling rivalry’ as North Catholic softball hosts Ellwood City
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | 7:42 PM
Adrienne and Angie Nardone will share a softball field Wednesday afternoon when Ellwood City visits North Catholic.
Sisters playing softball is fairly common in the WPIAL.
What makes this sister tandem unique is that they’ll be playing and pitching for opposite teams. Adrienne is a senior for North Catholic. Angie is a freshman at Ellwood City.
“It’s a unique situation,” said Ellwood City coach Gary Rozanski, who has coached the Wolverines for 14 seasons. Thinking back over all those years, he said, he can’t remember ever seeing sisters battle head to head like this.
“It’s a little bit exciting for both of them,” North Catholic coach Anthony Conforti said. “Adrienne is the big sister. Angie is the up-and-coming freshman. … It’s a sibling rivalry.”
In the crowd Wednesday will be the Nardones’ parents, Bill and Lisa, their 92-year-old grandfather Joe, and their brother Will. Which school will the Nardone family root for?
“That’s a good question,” Bill Nardone said with a laugh.
North Catholic is 4-3 overall, 2-1 in Section 2-3A. Ellwood City is 4-4, 1-2. Both sisters pitch regularly but neither is guaranteed to start in the circle Wednesday. Angie made her second start Monday against Beaver and pitched all seven innings, striking out seven and walking one in a 5-2 loss.
Adrienne is North Catholic’s No. 1 pitcher. She pitched all seven innings in Monday’s 8-6 victory over Hopewell.
However, even if they don’t start, each coach said that the sisters likely would pitch in relief.
“At some point there will be that (sister vs. sister matchup),” Rozanski said. “Whether it’s Angie in the circle and Adrienne in the box or vice versa.”
Older sister Adrienne attended Ellwood City before she enrolled at North Catholic for ninth grade. She’s already committed to play Division I softball at Colgate as a hitter not a pitcher.
“Adrienne has hit six home runs this year,” Bill Nardone said, “so I’m not sure she’s going to see any good pitches from her little sister.”
The Nardones got their start in an Ellwood City youth softball program that Conforti helped establish 14 years ago. This is Conforti’s first year at North Catholic after five seasons at Union.
He previously worked as an Ellwood City assistant under Rozanski. The two coaches remain good friends and talk regularly — but haven’t discussed Wednesday’s pitching strategy, they said.
The two sisters are close and haven’t approached this game as any real rivalry, said their father.
“Adrienne has helped Angie immensely with pitching and hitting all winter long,” said Bill Nardone, who coaches youth softball. “They’re just going to play the game. There really is no animosity or any problem — nothing like that. They both love to play the game, and Angie really looks up to her sister.
“Angie listens to Adrienne more than she listens to me.”
The Nardones knew this matchup would come once North Catholic and Ellwood City were moved into the same section this season. The schools will rematch April 29 in Ellwood City.
The teams could be fighting for a playoff spot, so neither coach will sacrifice strategy for a feel-good family moment.
“Once we get between those white lines, that’s going to go out the window,” Rozanski said.
“You’ve got to play to win,” Bill Nardone said, “but it would be good to see them both out there, that’s for sure.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .