Lorusso named Almanac MVP

Published Jun 23, 2014 at 9:49 am (Updated Jun 26, 2014 at 10:17 am)

Olivia Lorusso is a woman of her words. For as a high school freshman four years ago, she committed to Canon-McMillan softball.

“I knew Olivia was a multi-sport athlete – a very talented one with a gun for an arm,” said manager Michele Moeller.

“I meet with all the players individually to let them know if they’re on varsity and junior varsity and after our meeting, I made Olivia shake my hand and promise she would stay with us for all four years. We knew then she was something special.”

Lorusso was hardly a sensation when she started. She batted .200 with only three RBI, four doubles and one home run her freshman season.

Yet, she was doing great things in her other activities.

Besides being an outdoor enthusiast, riding horses and quads for fun, Lorusso enjoyed basketball and volleyball. Eventually, she would score over 1,000 points and grab over 800 rebounds in her hoop career. She was beginning to blossom in volleyball, too. In four years, she would be a top hitter on an undefeated section championship club. She would be a two-time Offensive Player of the Year, an all-section and all-WPIAL performer as well.

For some reason, however, her fondness for softball never waned. A sport she has played for as long as she can remember, technically Lorusso got her youthful start at age 6.

“I found my roots and it stuck,” she said. “Things snowballed from there.”

Indeed, after that less-than-spectacular freshman season, Lorusso played for the Lady Knights, under the watchful eye of Steve Moskal. After a summer facing stiff competition, there would be no more slumping. Lorusso’s stats started to climb. “She became a force you could not ignore,” said Moeller.

Lorusso slugged her way to the top; the Lady Macs, too. Canon-McMillan won back-to-back WPIAL championships her sophomore and junior seasons. In 2012, she socked eight homers, four doubles and one triple while maintaining a .754 slugging percentage. She drove in 26 runs. In 2013, the same season the Lady Macs claimed their first PIAA title, Lorusso upped the slugging average to .857 with seven round trippers, nine doubles and three triples. Her RBI count increased to 34 and she garnered all-state accolades.

This spring, her numbers swelled to .532 for a batting average and 1.286 for a slugging percentage. She drove in 46 runs, smashed 16 homers, tagged a three-bagger and drilled eight doubles. She also scored 33 times on her way to claiming all-section honors as well as Almanac MVP laurels.

Lorusso owned a .360 career batting average with 32 homers, 25 doubles and five triples. She drove in 109 runs.

“Olivia could change a game with one swing of the bat and she is so quick at third base,” said Moeller.

Third base is where Lorusso will play for Robert Morris University. She selected the Lady Colonials over Pitt and Marist.

“It just felt homey,” said the daughter of Bart and Raechel. “I’m not a big city girl. Robert Morris was the calm, ideal university setting for me. It felt right and exceeded everything for me. I need one-on-one. I don’t do real well being in a room with 1,000 people.”

While she has performed in front of large crowds, Lorusso cites last year’s PIAA final, an extra-inning win against Neshaminy, as the highlight in her athletic career at Canon-Mac. “Absolutely,” she said. “I will always remember that moment, the last out on the field, the sigh of relief and running into the arms of my teammates. How awesome it was over and we had accomplished the greatest victory of all. I could not imagine losing the game and the way Neshaminy must have felt after that long, hard game.”

Of her opponent, Lorusso said the team was amazing and a great test for the Lady Macs. “They provided us the best competition we will ever face. Throughout the process, we did not play a team I’d consider as talented and that had given us problem. We all felt that way. That’s why the championship is so special.”

While her senior season was not capped with another district or state title as the Lady Macs threw away their chances with a handful of errors in the WPIAL championship loss to Shaler and in a PIAA defeat to Dubois, the 2014 campaign and her career has proved special for Lorusso’s admirers.

“Olivia is not one we will replace anytime soon,” said Moeller. “We have some talented players still that we could move around if necessary and can possibly fill that spot but as far as new talent joining, those will be big shoes to fill.”

Lorusso is ready to fill the shoes at Robert Morris. Even wear the No. 8 jersey.

“The girl who had it is graduating so I am going to try real hard to get it. My freshman year, I plan on playing.

“My sister wore that number and I picked it for myself because of her. Eight seems to pop up a lot in my live. I hit eight home runs one season. I weighed eight pounds when I was born,” she said with a laugh.

While that was 18 years ago, the future is bright for Lorusso, who plans to pursue a law degree after her playing career ends.

“If she approaches her next four years unsatisfied with her ability, yet confident, and commits herself to her own growth in continued game knowledge and skill, there is no stopping her,” said Moeller.

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