Westmoreland high school athlete of the week: Norwin’s Brookelyn Kotch and Penn-Trafford’s Brandon Roher

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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 8:09 PM


Brookelyn Kotch

School: Norwin

Class: Senior

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Kotch did something many pitchers have not done in recent years: She beat Hempfield. Kotch scattered six hits, did not issue a walk and struck our four while forcing 13 flyouts as Norwin upset top-seeded and defending WPIAL Hempfield, 5-2, in the Class 6A semifinals. Norwin advanced to the WPIAL final for the first time.

Kotch plans to continue her playing career at Penn State New Kensington.

Has the upset and its significance sunk in yet?

Yes. I’m so proud of this team for pulling off such a spectacular “W.”

How were you able to keep such a good lineup mostly quiet?

I trusted my defense. I kept my pitches off the plate, used my corners and did everything I could to keep the hits playable.

Did you think Norwin could be a championship-contending team?

Absolutely.

Are you surprised by this playoff run?

No, I always knew we had it in us.

What will it take to beat star pitcher Lexi Hames and Seneca Valley in the title game?

We need to bring the same energy we’ve had the last few games and see the ball the whole way to the bat.

There were several good luck signs at Wednesday’s game. Were you aware of them?

Yes, but I wasn’t relying purely on luck.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions?

Having my sister in the dugout, in the same uniform, means a lot to me. It gives me a sense of security in tense situations.

I can’t play a softball game unless I ________?

Get a text from my mom that says, “Play hard! Have fun! Love you!”

What is your best pitch?

My off-speed drop ball.

Who is the best hitter you have faced?

The next one.

What is coach Brian Mesich’s favorite saying?

“Buggaboo.”

Do you have naturally curly hair?

Absolutely. It was a gift from my mom, and I love it.

What did you like most about Penn State New Kensington?

My coaches. They are the most supportive people I know, and I can’t wait to start with them. Academically, they were a perfect fit for what I want to accomplish.

Will you pitch there?

I’ll play wherever I’m needed. If that place is in the circle, I’m up for the challenge.

Is there any significance to your first name?

Yes. My full name is Brookelyn Elizabeth (Kotch). I was named after three of the most powerful women I know: My aunt, Stefanie Brooke; my mom, Staci Lynn; and my aunt, Amanda Elizabeth.

What makes you happy?

Softball and the people I love.

What makes you sad?

The thought of this team moving forward without our senior class. It feels so permanent. We’ve made a big impact in each other’s lives.

What are your summer plans?

Lots of softball, and gearing up for the next chapter.

Brandon Roher

School: Penn-Trafford

Class: Senior

Sport: Baseball

Claim to Fame: Roher pitched six scoreless innings Monday to help the Warriors defeat Fox Chapel, 2-0, in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal. He is 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA. In 50 innings he has 34 strikeouts. Now the Warriors, after defeating Franklin Regional, will face Bethel Park in the WPIAL final Tuesday. He plays to attend Westminster and major in business.

What were your thoughts about your playoff performance?

I knew I had to do my best. I knew it would be a close game. They have a good pitcher. We had to play our game, and I knew I had to throw strikes and trust my defense.

What was the key in the Franklin Regional win on Tuesday?

Going out and playing our game. We expected it to be close, but we thought we could defeat them.

What do you know about Bethel Park?

They’re a good team. We’ll have to pitch well and play good defense.

What are goals of the team?

The team is to make a state run. We achieved two goals: winning the section and making the WPIAL finals.

What did winning the Fall League Championship do for the team?

It gave us a chance to play with the young players, and it gave us confidence that we could win the title. It helped us a lot.

What did playing two games in the state tournament and stunning Central Mountain do for the team?

It showed us we can play with anyone. We’re hoping to make a deep run in the state playoffs.

Do you play any other sport?

Just baseball

Who is your favorite player?

I liked watching Andrew McCutcheon. I also like to watch Gerrit Cole.

What is your opinion about Paul Skenes?

I like him a lot. I watched him in college, and I’m planning to watch him in persom.

If you were the Pirates general manager, what we you do with the squad?

Try not to give away young talent. Too many times we trade them away.

What is your favorite sports movie?

Miracle”

The best pizza in your area is?

Dom’s in Trafford

After a game or practice, where do you and your teammates go for a meal or a snack?

We go to Sheetz and I get boneless wings and fries. We also like Griffs in Export.

My favorite meal my mom or dad makes is?

I like a medium- rare steak.

My favorite vacation spot is?

Ripken in Myrtle Beach

Do you have a dream car?

I like older Chevy Camaros.

Do you have a ritual before you play a game?

I just try to relax.

Who was the toughest player you ever faced?

Central Catholic’s Gavin Kelly. He plays at West Virginia.

What type of music do you listen to?

A like rap and a little bit of country.

If you could have lunch or dinner with someone famous, who would it be and what would you talk about?

My great grandfather, and we’d talk about life.

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

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