Kylie Norwood isn’t a pitcher. She doesn’t claim to be.
What she is, is one of the Foothill League’s best hitters, who pitches because her team needs her to and who doesn’t let what happens in the circle impact what she does at the plate.
So, it came as little surprise Tuesday, after she allowed five first-inning runs, that she went 4-for-5 and scored four times in Hart’s 13-9 win over Royal High of Simi Valley in the wild-card round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.
The Indians will play Thursday at No. 2-seed Redlands after the first playoff victory since 2011 for Hart and coach Steve Calendo, who promised Norwood, a middle infielder headed to the University of Toledo, she wouldn’t have to pitch again as a senior.
Then, as the season began, Hart (16-12) needed her.
“When you’re not a full-time pitcher, you miss sometimes, and she knows that,” said Calendo, who praised Norwood for her selflessness. “She’s a great athlete. … She can play any position except catcher.”
Norwood has 55 hits on the year, placing her among the Southern Section’s leaders across all divisions.
Hit No. 54 sparked a four-run rally in the fourth that put Hart ahead 11-5. Andrea Cespedes and Abby Sweet each had an RBI single in the inning.
Cespedes drove in four runs on the day. Aly Kaneshiro, Jordyn Gasper and Abby Cunningham each had two hits and two RBIs. Shortstop Brooke Marquez had three of the Indians’ 18 hits.
It was Royal (14-14), though, that cracked the scoreboard first.
The first six Highlanders to bat recorded a hit. Sydney Jenkins’ ground-rule double drove in two as it rolled out of play, past the far edge of the left-field fence.
Hart easily found the ball and quickly found the lead.
Cespedes drove in two of the Indians’ three first-inning runs with a double. Then Gasper, Kaneshiro and Cespedes each drove in a run with singles in the second to put Hart ahead for good, 6-5.
Amid all the offense, Mona Trevizo was key. The junior relieved Norwood with one out in the first, and kept the Highlanders in check until back-to-back home runs made it 11-8 Hart in the fifth.
“Very. Big. Help,” Norwood said of Trevizo, who retired the side in order in the seventh, the second out providing the game’s defensive highlight.
Third baseman Sweet lunged to her glove side and fired to first from her knees.
The Indians’ last playoff win came in 2011, a 4-3 extra-inning victory over Upland in the wild-card round.