With strong returning core, Norwin softball has sights set on playoffs

Saturday, March 25, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Six out of nine teams in WPIAL Class 6A will make the playoffs this softball season.

Norwin does not plan to be one of the unfortunate three.

The WPIAL condensed its largest classification in to one section. It also includes Seneca Valley, North Allegheny, Mt. Lebanon, Hempfield, Baldwin, Butler, Canon-McMillan and Pine-Richland.

The Lady Knights reached the quarterfinals last season before falling to Hempfield, 5-4, to finish 6-10. They won four of their final six games to build momentum — momentum that could lead to bigger and better things this spring.

“The girls have been working really hard all offseason,” coach Brian Mesich said. “We have some great leadership that will hopefully make us a competitive team and hard to play against.”

Top returnees leading the charge will be senior catcher Madie Kessler, a St. Francis commit, junior shortstop Bailey Snowberger, a Holy Cross recruit, as well as Gannon commit Emma Novotnak and senior Alyssa McCormick, who will play at Fairmont State.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with this talented group of girls this year,” Kessler said. “We will have some young new players that will significantly enhance our team.”

McCormick will move from the outfield to the pitcher’s circle as she takes the reins from graduate Angelina Pepe.

Other key players include juniors Josey Michalski and Brookelyn Kotch.

Norwin wants to be more consistent in tight games — in a good way, of course.

“Games over the past years have come down to making key plays in key moments,” Mesich said. “It’s a true a game of inches sometimes.”

Kessler, who has displayed power since she first stepped to the plate a few years ago, hit five home runs last season and drove in 16.

Snowberger, the point guard for the Lady Knights’ basketball team that advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals, hit .448 with 18 runs scored and 12 steals in her best prep season.

Mesich added some familiar Norwin names to his coaching staff, which already included his daughter, Breanna Mesich-Yoest.

Former Knights’ baseball standout Tommy Quealy and his father, Tom, who used to be a baseball assistant at Norwin, will help out.

“We’re converting the Quealys from baseball to softball,” Mesich said.

The elephant in the room for Norwin last year was its home field. Despite a turf infield, the outfield often was unplayable because it could not hold heavy rain water.

Mesich said the district had new drains installed in the fall, which help the problem.

Norwin had to play a key late-season game against North Allegheny on its middle school field last year because the main field was a mud pit.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but hopefully (the drains) will help,” Mesich said. “They don’t help against snow, though.”

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


More High School Softball

Trib 10: Baseball power rankings shaken up despite poor week of weather
Leechburg softball team proud to uphold playoff streak
Westmoreland County softball notebook: Southmoreland captures elusive section title
Close games sharpen Greensburg Central Catholic softball for battles ahead
Trib HSSN softball player of the week for May 1, 2023