Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | 18:38
It looks like a classic case of expectation vs. execution for Norwin this baseball season.
If one catches up with the other, you have to be careful.
The No. 1 ranked knights are loaded with talent at the college level – one composed of Division I, II and III recruited. A dozen players are committed to playing at the next level, automatically increasing the pressure on the Knights before a pitch is thrown.
But how well these players connect and play as a unit can be what drives them to a section title and by season.
Coach Mike Liebdzinski says pumping the brakes, for now.
“We’ve talked a lot about the rankings out there and about all of our college kids,” said Liebdzinski, who is starting his 18th season. “But it means nothing right now. I asked our kids, how many playoff games have you won? The answer is zero. ”
The only musty Jake Bazala has any significant university experience on the mound, so the elderly with the long, curly red hair will set the pace for their colleagues.
This staff should be able to untie any knots.
Norwin wants a luxury most teams, even at class 6A level, can not afford: enormous pitch depth. The team could build a bullpen behind the fence to hide at least six players who just want to strike.
Senior Jayden Walker, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound left, has limited duration on the mound and has been on long-term return from shoulder injury so he could return to action. Walker, Bazala and senior prisoner Landon DiBeradin are Mercyhurst commitments.
“The kids are confident and they expect a good season,” Liebdzinski said. “We have some jugs, but many of them are completely untested. It’s going to be really nice to have that kind of depth, though. We may not need to have a guy in 100 seats. We could end up with the 3-2-2 (innings) approach if it works out. ”
Walker may end up in a closer role, Liebdzinski said.
“We can not afford to relax on exercises and games,” said Bazala. “Throughout the winter, we worked as individuals and sometimes together to improve ourselves as players and a team. If we continue to keep our heads forward and do our job, there should be no one who can get in our way.”
Other pitchers include juniors Chase Kranitz and Noah Czajkowski as well as seniors Zach Potthoff, Luke Savage and Brady Kukich.
Kranitz is working his way back from wrestling, and Walker and Fleming were starters on the basketball team.
Offensively, the Knights can also be a handful. A new scoreboard, which is planned to go up in April, can often light up on the website.
Walker will play first base, and Alex Gabauer or Ryan Scavnicky, both seniors, will start in second place. Gabauer or junior Jake Kendro will be on shortstop, with junior Ty Stecko on third.
Like pitching, Liebdzinski has prosperous options with his midfield. Replaceable parts are another result of the talent and depth the Knights have. We are talking division In bats and gloves.
Gabauer is a Penn recruit, Kendro is on his way to Tennessee and Stecko is a Mount St. Mary’s commitment, as is senior outfielder Nick Fleming, another big bat.
“As a whole, we try to look beyond talent,” Gabauer said. “We know what we have and the potential we bring. If we trust just that, we will not go too far. A team that has this kind of ability must stay focused and ignore the noise outside. We all compete for places every day and are aware that half of our team will not play, but (they) can be starters or even a star on another team. It’s a game in a game with our team, and we are dedicated to holding together and embracing this opportunity as a collective group.
“Looking good on paper is not the same as acting.”
Norwin, who has 13 seniors, was 14-7 in 2019 and lost to final WPIAL champion Pine-Richland in the quarterfinals. WPIAL champions in 2015 and ’16, the Knights will chase a 12th straight outing.
DiBeradin or senior Ron Howard will capture, while a talented outfield will feature Fleming, seniors Tanner Krevokuch, Eric Chorba and Justin Turcovski, and junior Elijah Dunn.
Chorba committed to Longwood, Turcovski to Pitt-Johnstown. Potthoff (Swarthmore) and Scavnicky (Franciscan) are on their way to Division III programs.
“On paper, we have a lot of talent,” Liebdzinski said. “The batteries are always behind and must catch up. We hope when they get started, we will have a good time. We need to get a sense of what we have. The starters you have on the opening day are never the starters you have on the playoff day. ”