Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week for week ending April 4, 2021

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Sunday, April 4, 2021 | 9:57 PM


When last we saw the Norwin softball team, it was falling in the final four.

The Knights lost to North Allegheny, 8-4, in the 2019 Class 6A semifinals, ending their season with a 13-8 overall record.

Now in his sixth season as coach at Norwin, Brian Mesich knows a lot has changed for his program since that postseason loss more than 22 months ago.

“The young sophomores and freshman at that time are now our leaders,” he said. “That experience has taught them the importance of the team concept. We hope that we can match and build on that success.”

So far, so good for the Knightsin 2021 after getting off to a 3-0 start after two impressive victories last week.

After edging Burrell on March 27, last week began for the Knights with a trip to Latrobe on Monday to face a former section rival.

“Timely hitting and taking advantage of runners in scoring position was the key,” Mesich said. “Olivia Mastrilli had some timely hits. We were able to manufacture some runs when we needed them.”

Most of those runs came early as Norwin defeated Latrobe, 8-7.

Then in the Knights final tune-up before section play this week, they squared off with one of the best teams in the district in 3A top-ranked Mt. Pleasant. Norwin won 6-4.

“Mt. Pleasant was one of the most athletic and talented teams I have seen since I became the head coach at Norwin,” Mesich said. “We started out slow at the plate, but we were able to survive their early runs and their hard hits. Definitely coming back and finishing strong at home against Mt. Pleasant and away against Latrobe gives us confidence that we are never out of the game.”

The Knights are 3-0 and have scored 16 runs in those tough nonsection games.

“Actually, one of the things I thought we would have is some offense,” Mesich said. “The lineup is starting to take shape but looking to make balanced from top to bottom. What is nice is having girls with position flexibility.”

Mesich said there have been several standout performers thus far.

“It all starts with pitching. Sydney Lokay and Angelina Pepe are getting better each outing. Bailee Bertani is a solid guidance behind and at the plate. Other contributors were Liz Waszkiewicz, Elly Stodolsky, Olivia Mastrilli, Mallory Wensel and Madie Kessler, with others helping doing those little things that makes for a good team.”

Those players are thrilled just to be playing this spring after what happened last year. However, there are still obstacles to overcome to keep everybody healthy and on the playing field.

“Not being able to start workouts until February was difficult,” Mesich said. “School becoming fully remote and losing games and practices and having some players having to quarantine due to contact tracing make it difficult. We are trying to do our best with what we can control and take one day and one week at a time. Try to enjoy and take advantage of the opportunities we have.”

Norwin is set to open Section 2-6A action Friday, when they host Butler. Mesich is optimistic this 3-0 start is a good sign for a successful spring.

“We are looking forward to starting section play. Each game will be a challenge, and hopefully we can continue playing hard and clean softball. The girls have worked very hard and deserve all of the positive things that come from that hard work.”

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