Despite an 0-3 start, Norwin softball team still in section race
Norwin's shaky start to the softball season has the team in a less-than-enviable position, but the Knights aren't ready to panic yet.
Three straight losses, all to top Section 1-AAAA contenders and two by one run, have the defending champion Knights looking up at the rest of the league, but head coach Andy Phipps doesn't think his team is out of the playoff hunt or the section title race.
“The team that wins our section is probably going to have three or four losses, I think. There's just that many good teams in the section,” Phipps said. “Hopefully, we got ours out of the way and we're ready to move on.”
The first step to moving on was getting a first win, and Norwin (1-3) did that on Friday with a 6-2 nonsection win at Gateway (3-1).
Both teams scored twice in the first inning, but the Knights were able to keep the offense going while winning pitcher Maddy Miller shut down the Gators and limited them to just four hits in the game.
“That was important for us to get a win,” Phipps said. “Last year, we made some mistakes in nonsection play, but we had it fixed by the time we reached section play. This year, we started off with section play and didn't have time to correct those mistakes.
“We're definitely improving, and if we can find a way to win some games this week, we're in the hunt.”
This week is a four-section-game week for Norwin, the results of which will go a long way toward the Knights' playoff hopes.
The team was scheduled to play Connellsville and Kiski Area on Tuesday and Wednesday, both after this edition's deadline. After that, the team hosts Penn-Trafford on Thursday and Latrobe on Saturday, which will bring section play to its midpoint if the weather cooperates.
“Every game in our section is such a tough game, and Penn-Trafford/Norwin is such a huge rivalry, even if one team or the other is down,” Phipps said. “We have to come out of this week with a winning record if we want to stay in the race (for the section title).”
One thing working in the Knights' favor is that the team's offense is swinging into gear. Norwin has 36 hits in its first four games, even after posting just six — and just one, a Maddy Wensel double, went for extra bases — against Gateway.
“The girls are playing well, especially hitting the ball,” Phipps said. “We're just not getting those timely hits in games like we were last year.”
While Hempfield and Latrobe are both 3-0 in section play, the middle of the section is a bit more jumbled. Franklin Regional also would be 3-0 if not for a surprising loss to Connellsville, which has only one section win and a pair of 4-2 losses to Hempfield and P-T.
Throw in the Warriors, who are in the middle of the pack at 2-2, and Norwin has a lot of quality traffic ahead of it but trails by only two games as the section season really gets rolling.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.