Westmoreland high school notebook: Norwin girls soccer team could heed some advice from Hempfield softball team

Monday, September 4, 2017 | 6:42 PM

If the nationally ranked Norwin girls soccer team is looking for advice navigating through this pressure-packed season, it can find it a few miles down the road.

A nearby county team knows all about wall-to-wall pressure.

Much like Norwin, Hempfield softball began last season with the potential to succeed and the demand to do so.

Both started their seasons as two-time defending WPIAL champions in the largest classification. Both returned senior leaders with experience to share with younger players. And both returned more than a half-dozen players already committed to colleges, including Division-I talent.

Hempfield had seven of those, including ace pitcher Morgan Ryan, now at Notre Dame. Norwin has nine, including goalie Sam Wexell (Ohio) and forward Emily Harrigan (Rutgers).

Hempfield lived up to the lofty billing by finishing 27-0, winning its third consecutive WPIAL title and raising back-to-back PIAA championship trophies.

“Their expectations are even higher than those of our fans,” Hempfield softball coach Bob Kalp said of Norwin. “We were not mentioned nationally. They must be really good, but that will get you everyone's best effort. My advice — it worked for us — is to set only one goal: Work everyday to become better, and the rewards will follow.”

Norwin has come up short in the PIAA playoffs, falling in the state semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals last fall. But big goals are there for the taking as Norwin aims for its best season yet.

As Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said, “The goal is to not get ahead of ourselves,” and that the team won't “stand for any drama.”

Kalp said talk is cheap, and actions speak the loudest.

“Don't talk about winning sections, WPIAL and PIAA championships,” Kalp said. “I subscribe to that approach every year. You can be successful every year without winning it all. Your players have to buy in to working daily and not talking about winning. We talk about improving and let the games be our measuring stick.”

Welcoming Konek

Southmoreland girls basketball coach Brian Pritts was as surprised an anyone when he found out former Imani Christian star Cali Konek was joining his program. Konek recently enrolled at Southmoreland and began classes there this week.

Pritts is eager to work with Konek, a junior point guard who last year played at Riverdale Baptist in Maryland before transferring back to WPIAL territory. As a freshman at Imani Christian, she averaged 45.4 points per game, scoring 1,045 points in one season.

“Any time you have a player of that caliber in your school,” Pritts said, “it's a plus for everybody.”

She scored around 11 a game last season, blending more into the offense. Riverdale has a reputation for getting players into Division-I schools. Konek, originally from North Huntingdon but now living in the Southmoreland School District, moved back to the area for personal reasons.

Konek has at least eight scholarship offers, including Georgia Tech, Pepperdine and Duquesne.

Hoops showcase

Several Westmoreland County players will take part in the first Baseline Recruiting basketball showcase.

Hempfield junior point guard Reed Hipps, Latrobe junior Bryce Butler, The Kiski School junior Asa Klimchock (formerly of Greensburg Central Catholic) and Franklin Regional senior forward Hunter Stonecheck are headed to the invitation-only event Sept. 24 at The Kiski School.

Dozens of college coaches will be on hand to watch more than 80 players.

New school year, new school

A former Alle-Kiski Valley standout will be playing college basketball in Westmoreland County. Sadie Buchser, a four-year starter at Riverview in Oakmont, transferred from Thiel to Pitt-Greensburg.

A 5-foot-6 sophomore guard, Buchser scored 1,460 career points at Riverview. She played in 10 games last season at Thiel, averaging 2.8 points and 1.6 rebounds in 11 minutes a game.

She scored 10 points against Kalamazoo. She said the transfer was for personal reasons.

• Former Greensburg Central Catholic and Valley quarterback Philip Petit transferred to St. Vincent from Allegheny. The sophomore is listed as a running back.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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