Westmoreland high school notebook: Norwin baseball loaded again

Saturday, January 25, 2020 | 7:25 PM

Expectations always are high in the Norwin baseball program, and that’s before the college commitments start rolling in.

The Knights have had talent-heavy teams before, but the one they expect put on the field this spring looks loaded.

The team has three Division I commits in sophomore shortstop Jake Kendro (Tennessee), junior middle infielder Alex Gabauer (Penn) and junior catcher/outfielder Eric Chorba (Longwood, Va.).

Senior outfielder Aidan Shephard is headed to Division II Mercyhurst.

And don’t forget two additional Division I prospects in junior Jayden Walker, a pitcher and first baseman, and junior pitcher Jacob Bazala. Both have offers from Mount St. Mary’s (Md.).

Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski and his staff are known for developing prospects and fielding playoff-caliber teams.

Liebdznski has helped to produce 18 Division I players, most notably JJ Matijevic, a minor leaguer with the Houston Astros.

“We think our lineup and defense will be solid,” Liebdzinski said. “A lot of our success will depend on how our young pitchers develop. It certainly will help if Jayden is able to come back to where he was before the injury.”

Walker, a hard-throwing 6-foot-3 left-hander who did not pitch last season, had shoulder surgery in June and is expected to return at full strength.

Walker said he is about four weeks into his throwing program.

“I am at 105 feet now, but I am working into 140 and then working back down and into bullpens,” Walker said. “I’ll be throwing bullpen in February or March. It feels fine right now. No problems.”

Walker and Gabauer are key players for the Knights basketball team.

Petrof a finalist

Ligonier Valley senior Michael Petrof is a finalist for the Mr. PA Football Lineman of the Year for Class A-3A.

A Navy recruit, the 6-2, 275-pound Petrof was an all-state defensive lineman. He had 55 tackles, 11 for loss, with three sacks last season.

The other finalists are Brady Bithell of Bishop Guilfoyle, Dayon Hayes of Westinghouse, Elijah Mike of Aliquippa and Sammy Solomon of Wyoming Area.

Big School finalists for lineman of the year are Michael Carmody of Mars, Nick Dawkins of Parkland, Nolan Rucci of Warwick, Casey Stephenson of St. Joseph’s Prep and Logan Danielson of Thomas Jefferson.

Winners will be announced March 7 during an awards banquet at the Best Western Premier in Harrisburg.

Hempfield trio commit

Senior running back Nathan Roby turned heads late last football season when he rushed for 908 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final three games for Hempfield. He ran for 407 yards and scored seven touchdowns against Plum.

The diminutive Roby (5-7, 160) garnered college attention because of that surge and decided to take an offer to play at Clarion.

Roby finished with 1,449 yards and 19 scores in his senior season. He finished as the Spartans’ career leader in rushing yards (2,337) and touchdowns (28).

Roby also had 52 receptions for 576 yards this season.

Two of his teammates also announced commitments to Division II programs. Senior linebacker Dillon Ferretti is headed to Mercyhurst, and senior two-way lineman Paul Newill will play at Seton Hill.

Ferretti led the Spartans last season with 100 tackles, 32 solo and 19 for loss. He also had 5½ sacks. Newill had 14 total tackles and helped block for Roby.


Three Greensburg Salem football players received Division II scholarship offers: slot back and free safety Jalen Page from Millersville, receiver/defensive back Cavan Trout (6-3, 210) from Fairmont State and Cal (Pa.) and tight end Ryan Thomas (6-3, 210) from Cal (Pa.).

• Millersville also offered Jeannette middle linebacker/defensive lineman Justin Cramer. He also picked up an offer from Division II Wheeling.

• Jeannette two-way lineman Zach Crutchman (6-2, 240) received an offer from Cal (Pa.). He was a standout defensive end for the Jayhawks.

• Lock Haven offered Penn-Trafford senior receiver and cornerback Noah Allen.

• Hempfield’s Nick Ross, a wide receiver and cornerback, has preferred walk-on offers from Seton Hill and Clarion. He also has interest as a punter.

• Penn-Trafford senior lacrosse player John Robbins will continue his playing career at Thiel.

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

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