Norwin softball team continues to struggle in early season
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A year ago Norwin used a home upset victory over perennial powerhouse Hempfield to vault itself into contention for the Section 1-AAAA title.
Considering how bright the team's future looked heading into 2013, something obviously has gone amiss.
Even though the Knights have most of their key components back, they have struggled to find the chemistry that helped them win a share of the section championship. Norwin (0-3, 0-3) again failed to find the right formula when it hosted the Spartans for the first of their two meetings. Kasey Kulick went 4 for 4 with two doubles, a home run and six RBI to lead Hempfield (2-1, 1-0) to a 12-4 victory.
“I don't think there's been a dramatic change, but last year we were able to work out the bugs in preseason games and, by the time we got into the section, were able to get out minor mental mistakes out of the way,” Norwin coach Andy Phipps said. “We've played three strong teams (including losses to Latrobe and Franklin Regional), and before (Hempfield) we hadn't made any errors. We made mental mistakes, and this time we made errors.”
Even though Norwin took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a two-run double from sophomore catcher Maddy Wensel, it couldn't generate enough clutch hits to stay with a Hempfield squad that was clicking despite only limited plate appearances against live pitching. Eight of the nine Spartans starters had at least one hit and scored at least one run against the three Knights pitchers.
“This wasn't our style of game because we're not usually going to put double-digit numbers on the board against a decent team, and Norwin is a decent team,” Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. “It's kind of a strange game. They hit the crap out of the ball, and both sides hit the ball hard, but we were fortunate that we had some runners on base and they did not.”
Hempfield blew the game open in the top o the second when it sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs against Norwin starter Maddy Miller. Miller was pulled after 1 2⁄3 innings for senior Jamie Robinson, who is still recovering from arm problems that slowed her at the end of last season when she won 15 games.
“At this point Maddy is our No. 1 pitcher, and because of Jamie's shoulder injury, she didn't really pitch a lot in the offseason. But we're going to start relying on her more and more, but Maddy is still our No. 1,” Phipps said. “What she has to adjust to right now is that we like to rely on location, and she's used to calling her own pitches. She just has to believe in us when it comes to the location, and Jamie did it last year and won 15 games.”
Hempfield starter Hope Pehrson had no problem putting the ball where she needed to when she needed to. The Seton Hill recruit, who also had arm problems at the end of 2012 despite pitching the Spartans into the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game, allowed three earned runs and struck out five.
Because she is coming back from the injury, however, Pehrson will not pitch against Canon-McMillan on Friday in a rematch of the 2012 finals, a 4-1 Big Macs win at California (Pa.) University.
Despite the fact that Norwin is winless in the section, the team is confident that enough time remains to right the ship and at least finish in one of the top three spots to earn another WPIAL playoff berth.
“I truly believe that the team that wins this section is going to have three or four losses anyway, and I don't think that anybody is going to run the table in this section because it's too strong,” Phipps said. “Hopefully we've got out losses out of the way because we have a strong group of girls.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night
- Healthy, confident Steelers LB Shazier ready for full speed ahead
- Paving, electronics upgrades evident at Steel Valley
- Timing drives former KHL star Plotnikov
- Pirates notebook: Catcher Cervelli among ejection leaders
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle mulling rotation options
- ATI picket injured at Harrison mill
- Historic WWII-era landing ship tank docking at Heinz Field
- Despite being suspended, Boyd still making contributions for Pitt
- LaBar: The upgrade of The Wyatt Family in WWE
- Cops nab 4 in Monessen drug hangout