Softball hoping for rebound in playoffs


Isabelle Wakefield, ’24, swings during a home game earlier this season. Wakefield is forth in batting average on the team, hitting .344 on the year.

The Allegheny softball team dropped the final two games of the regular season to Waynesburg on Tuesday, April 26. It was the first time the Gators have been swept by a conference foe throughout their 2023 campaign, but despite the minor setback they have still accumulated 24 wins on the season.

This marks the most victories since 2013, when Head Coach Beth Curtiss took over at the helm and led Allegheny to an NCAA Regional appearance. The Gators sit 14-6 conference record, and are bound for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference playoffs, looking to bring home a title to the Swamp.

“It would be awesome to be like ‘look at where I was when I was a freshman, on a team where we only won four games against the same opponent, to now winning a conference championship,’” said Isabelle Wakefield, ’24.

Wakefield has been an instrumental piece to the Gators success this year. Over the last three years, she has developed her craft and was able to witness the improvements not only within herself, but also with the team.

Providing a solid glove in the middle infield, Wakefield has committed only one error on the year and boasts a .977 fielding percentage. Her bat has also struck fire, hitting .391 in the month of April. She has come to life during her last season with the Blue and Gold, and is shining in every facet of the game.

“I figured out that it’s just a game,” Wakefield said. “I’ve given up trying to control things that are out of my control and have just trusted in myself and my skills.”

The PAC playoff race will begin Monday, May 1, with a play-in game versus the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds. The winner of that affair will play the No. 4 seed to set the final four for the semi-finals and championship on May 5 and 6.

The standings have jumped back and forth all season within the top half of the PAC. Allegheny is the No. 3 seed, and will either play Waynesburg University or Westminster College after they battle out the No. 1 and No. 2 seed spots this weekend. The other three teams to have already claimed their ticket to the tournament are Geneva College, St. Vincent College and Grove City College.

The talent fielded throughout the season has been undeniable. Aleya Belardinelli, ’25, earned PAC Pitcher of the Week in the most recent weekly awards, after going 2-0 while racking up 20 punchouts en route to wins over St. Vincent and Washington and Jefferson, going the distance in both contests. Belardinelli is also a two-way player for the Gators, and when she is not on the mound she is in the field playing second base.

“It helps being a pitcher going into game two playing second,” Belardinelli said. “When I’m in the box, I know what the pitcher is going to throw. I can play the games a little bit of ‘oh she’s going to throw a rise ball here,’ or ‘a changeup is coming’ so I can kind of detect it a little bit being a two way. But, it does get tough, especially physically getting worn out, but I still have to play second and hit at the top of the order so it is also a mental challenge and just being prepared for that.”

The Gators will rely heavily on Belardinelli’s arm and bat throughout the postseason, but another impressive player with the stick this year has been Samantha Phillips, ’26. Phillips has produced on a consistent basis throughout the year and is swinging .395 on the season.

She was dubbed PAC Rookie of the Week on April 18, for the second time during her freshman campaign, but for Phillips her game has not been up to her standards. Although it may seem hard to believe given her numbers, she believes there is more in the tank to unload for playoffs.

“I definitely want to be more consistent in the field and hitting wise,” Phillips said. “I’ve been popping out a little more, I’m hitting a plateau with that right now, but I’m sure I’ll get back to it before the season ends.”

Phillips came into this year after the Gators finished 11-20-1 a season ago. Without knowing what to expect for team results, it has a quick turn of events for the roster coming with many pleasantries and excitement, with Phillips contributing to the success.

“It is really exciting to see how much we are all improving and how badly everyone wants it on the team,” Phillips said.

All eyes are set to see how the Gators will adjust to the playoff atmosphere. It is their first time back in the postseason since 2018. The team will get lots of time to practice over the next week to finalize a plan of attack and make sure they are mentally and physically prepared.