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High School Sports

Freshman leads Norwin softball in quest for 1st section title

| Thursday, May 3, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

Abbey Zorzi has played nearly four years of softball at Norwin and has never seen a postseason tournament.

Then again, Zorzi also has never seen someone like freshman catcher Maddy Wensel. Or the success the Knights have experienced with Wensel behind the plate.

“She's been a huge addition,” Zorzi said. “Hopefully she can keep up what she's been doing.”

Wensel has been Norwin's biggest surprise in a season full of them. She's hitting a team-best .574 with 19 RBI, 16 runs, 12 extra-base hits and just two strikeouts in 47 at-bats.

Besides thriving in clutch situations — she has produced two walk-off wins for the Knights — she also has been the primary reason umpires love working Norwin games and opposing teams rarely try running.

“People ask me what's the difference between this year's team and last year's team, and I tell them, ‘Maddy Wensel,' ” coach Andy Phipps said. “That freshman was not on last year's team. She's made a world of difference.”

No. 4 Norwin (13-2, 9-1) dropped a 12-2 decision Monday at Latrobe — the floodgates opened for 10 runs in the fifth — but the Knights still control their destiny. Win the final two Section 1-AAAA games against Penn-Trafford today and at Hempfield next Monday, and Norwin will capture the first section title in school history.

Securing the first playoff appearance since 2001 could require a win over Hempfield — if Hempfield loses to Latrobe today, next Monday's game won't mean much — and that's a team Norwin beat for the first time this spring.

“We'll find out what the girls are made of, if they can rebound,” said Phipps, who was Norwin's middle school coach from 2007-10. He guided this year's senior class to a 59-4 mark as seventh- and eighth-graders.

One member of that group was Zorzi, a St. Vincent recruit who's hitting .522 with 12 RBI and 19 runs. Another is Rachel Lojas, who had three homers and seven RBI in her first five games back from a shoulder injury.

Junior Jamie Robinson is 12-2 despite relying mostly on two pitches — a fastball and changeup.

No one is more excited at the prospect of making the postseason than Zorzi, who played on three teams that went a combined 22-29 before this spring.

“This is special,” she said. “We're just so happy and excited that we might get a chance to play in the playoffs this year.”

Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.

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