ShareThis Page

Norwin vs. Penn-Trafford softball game could determine playoffs

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9:48 a.m.
Norwin's Maddy Miller delivers a pitch during the Knights' game against Penn-Trafford on April 11, 2013, at Norwin High School. The Knights won, 11-2.
Norwin shortstop Cassidy Chappell records an out at second base in the Knights' game against rival Penn-Trafford on April 11, 2013, at Norwin High School. Norwin won, 11-2.

When the Norwin and Penn-Trafford softball teams meet Thursday afternoon, a postseason berth could be on the line — and both teams know it.

The section and traditional rivals entered the week battling for the third-place slot in Section 1-AAAA, which would earn the final playoff spot from the section. Thursday's game — the final section contest of the season for both schools — loomed large.

“It could determine which team goes,” Norwin coach Andy Phipps said. “If we beat Connellsville, and Hempfield beats Penn-Trafford (on Tuesday), that game will determine who goes to the playoffs.”

“This is our season,” Penn-Trafford coach Sam DeNillo said. “We win that one, we'll be sitting pretty nice.”

The game could be rendered meaningless for the postseason based on other results this week. Penn-Trafford (10-5, 6-4) entered the week with a one-game lead on Norwin (8-5, 5-5) for third place in the section. If the Warriors defeated second-place Hempfield on Tuesday, and Norwin lost to fifth-place Connellsville, the Warriors would clinch the final postseason berth. The two section games ended past the deadline for this week's edition.

For these rivals, however, no game against the other is truly meaningless.

The first time the teams played this season, April 11 at Norwin, the Knights came away with an 11-2 victory. Freshman Christiana Skrabek and sophomore Maddy Wensel hit first-inning home runs for Norwin in that game, and the Knights never looked back en route to the victory.

Phipps doesn't expect such an easy game this time around.

“Any time you go play at Penn-Trafford, it's a tough place to win,” Phipps said. “We played them pretty well at our place. Hopefully, we can do the same thing at their place.”

The rivals enter Thursday's game playing some of their best softball.

Since an 0-3 start, Norwin had won eight of its past 10 games heading through Monday. The Knights picked up a crucial victory last Monday, defeating Latrobe, 3-2, to give the first-place Wildcats their first section loss of the season.

“We knew our only chance at the postseason (was to) either get a win against Latrobe or Hempfield,” Phipps said.

“We got down in that game early and pretty much shut Latrobe down after the first inning. We played a really solid game, especially pitching and defensively.”

After a 7-3 loss to Hempfield last Tuesday, the Knights responded by beating Mt. Pleasant, 9-4, in a nonsection game Friday and McKeesport, 6-3, Monday.

“We were probably the longest shot possible starting the year out 0-3 in the section,” Phipps said. “Now, to give ourselves a chance to make the postseason is really important to us. I think the girls are starting to feel pretty confident. Even in the games where we've been down, they don't seem to get down on themselves, and they seem to battle back and find a way to win.”

Penn-Trafford is picking up its play, as well. The Warriors had won six of seven games since that loss to Norwin, and they outscored Kiski, Franklin Regional, Plum and Yough by a combined 28-4 in four wins over the past week.

Outside of an 11-0 loss to Latrobe on April 18, DeNillo believes his team is playing very well.

“We usually keep our errors down,” he said. “I think the girls are playing well together. They're starting to click, and I think this is the right time to do it.”

Whichever team ends up making the postseason, the coaches believe they have a chance to make some noise against their first-round opponent.

Phipps hopes it's his team that gets in.

“If we can get to the playoffs in that (No. 3) spot, I don't care who they put us up against in the first round,” he said. “We have a team that can play with anybody on any given day. We've got to find a way to squeak in.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.