By PAT JAMESON
Softball looks to rebound from disappointing weekend
The Allegheny women’s softball team opened their season this past weekend in a winless effort at the Beach Blast in the Mountains tournament in Virginia.
The squad fielded rookie pitchers and showcased some growing pains in their debut effort.
Head Coach Beth Curtiss attributes the Gators’ early struggles to a combination of unfamiliar conditions and youth.
“We need to be more aggressive at the plate earlier in the count,” said Curtiss. “We took a lot of strikes this weekend and got behind in the count on offense. We have new faces all over the field and some of our returners are playing in different positions. They need to continue to get comfortable playing next to each other out on the ball field. It is so different outside, as opposed to the blue courts.”
Friday evening the Gators faced off against Roanoke College, losing by a final score of 1-6. Roanoke set the tone early, going up 4-0 in the first inning against rookie pitcher Abrianna Sadler. Sophomore Belle Mazurik’s triple in the bottom of the first looked to spark Allegheny, but two straight outs kept them scoreless.
It would remain 4-0 in favor of Roanoke until the top of the fifth, when the Gators allowed two more runs, making it 0-6. Senior Halea Hayden’s double in the bottom of the seventh set up the Gators first and final run, as Maureen Pallone, ’14, drove in Hayden with a shot to center field. The Gators were unable to capitalize as two straight outs cemented the score at 1-6 and gave Allegheny their first loss of the season. Allison Cabo, ’17, pitched the last four innings in relief and was credited with the loss.
Later that night Allegheny fell in a matchup to The University of Mary Washington. Again a first-year pitcher took the mound, this time Dana Bacharach. The Gators struck first, as Sadie Stuart, ’15, doubled to lead off. One out later Katrina George, ’15, reached the base on a throwing error and Stuart was able to capitalize, crossing home plate to make it 1-0.
Mary Washington answered with a home run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at one. After the Gators went three-and-out in the top of the inning, Mary Washington exploded for six runs to make it 1-7. The Gators were marred by two errors in the inning, but were able to strand three on base as Miranda Arison, ’17, entered the game and struck out the final batter.
Allegheny showed signs of life in the third as George crushed a homerun to center field, narrowing the gap to five. Both teams failed to score again until Mary Washington stole home in the bottom of the fifth to make it 2-8.
Allegheny entered the top of the seventh with one more chance to tie, but was held scoreless, ending the game at 2-8. Arison’s pitching proved to be the high point for the Gators, as the rookie struck out five and only let up one run in relief.
The next day the Gators looked to snap their losing streak heading into a matinee versus Washington College from Chestertown Maryland. Once again the squad struggled early, giving up three runs in the top of the first. Washington would push their lead to five in the second and went on top 7-0 in the fourth as Allegheny struggled at the plate.
Hayden answered with a single in the bottom of the inning and directly after, George’s second home run of the tournament made it 2-7. Allegheny showed signs of life in the following inning as Hailey Marthaler, ’16, hit her first career home run and closed the gap to four. Washington answered with two runs in the next inning and two in the seventh, providing what would be an insurmountable lead for the Gators and ending the game at 12-2. Hayden led the Gators with three hits in the contest, connecting on each of her opportunities.
In their final bout of the tournament, Allegheny took on Catholic University in a close matchup. Sadler took the mound once again for the Gators, this time striking out seven while allowing two runs and six hits in nearly seven innings of play.
Catholic scored the first run of the game in the second inning. The score remained 0-1 for the next six innings as both teams left multiple players on base. Still trailing in the seventh inning the Gators needed a big play and they found it in first-years Hannah Blinn and Margaret Clarke. Blinn started off with a single, before Clarke replaced her as a pinch runner. A sacrifice bunt by Pallone allowed Clarke to advance to second, putting her in scoring position.
Sadler complimented her solid pitching performance by hitting a shot to center field, allowing Clarke to score a run, tying the game at one. Marthaler struck out to close the inning and the Gators went to defense hoping to force extra innings. Catholic was undeterred and put two runners on base with a single and a walk the following at-bat.
Arison then entered the game and struck out Catholic’s Kristina Loz for the first out of the inning. However, her next pitch would hit the Catholic batter and load the bases. Catholic found contact on the next at bat, but the Gators were able to throw out the runner at home. However, Arison walked the next batter on a 3-2 count and Allegheny left with a disappointing 1-2 loss.
“Our last game was a heartbreaker but it was a great game,” said Stuart. “Looking at the weekend as a whole, it was a great game to end the weekend with and to kind of give us a push as we head back indoors until we play in Florida. I think the team will respond well as long as we continue to keep doing the things we do well and get better at the things we haven’t gotten down yet.”
Coach Curtiss echoed this sentiment, saying that it is still early in the season and that her team will continue to grow.
“I have no doubt that we will see huge improvements as we play in Florida over spring break,” said Curtiss. “The jitters will fade in the new players and the team will get more confident the more we are outside.”
Despite the losses, Coach Curtiss said she was pleased with how the younger players responded.
“On the mound, Abrianna Sadler had a stellar game against Catholic after giving up only one run before being taken out in the seventh inning.” Curtiss said. “She also hit in our only run in that game. We expect her to be a big contributor this year. Fellow freshmen Allison Cabo and Miranda Arison provided some strong innings in relief. They both showed improvement and a lot of promise.”
Hayden stressed that while the Gators were unable to win this weekend, their record is not indicative of the potential they have as a team.
“I think that our team has showed immense promise,” said Hayden. “Even though the record shows four losses, that number does not express the many positive things the team and individuals accomplished this weekend. Although we seemed to get off to a slow start, by the fourth game of the weekend we were already showing the poise under pressure of a team halfway through their season. With a team of talented, hard-working ladies, I know that the best is definitely yet to come.”
Allegheny looks to rebound with their upcoming spring break trip to Florida to take on teams from around the country. Their first matchup is against SUNY-Geneseo on March 16, with the game scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.