What to ask for? – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

A 7-1 start to conference play is exactly what the Point Park softball team needed. What more could they ask for?

Well, a lot.

As always in sports, it’s not how you start a season, but how you finish.

Last year through their first eight conference games, Point Park was 5-3. After that, they went on a tear and finished the season 22-6 in conference play. Two of those losses came against Indiana University Southeast, the eventual Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) champion.

IU Southwest will be the Pioneers’ true test this season.

IU Southeast lost in the opening round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament last season for the second consecutive year. You can bet they’re looking to avenge their losses and bounce back to make a serious push at nationals this season.

The Pioneers have finished the past two seasons in second place behind IU Southeast in the KIAC. If they want to win the KIAC, they must first go through the Grenadiers. The Pioneers will host the Grenadiers in a four game series April 10 and 11.

So, wins over IU Southeast. That’s something more they could ask for. But more than just a couple of wins over IU Southeast, they have to have a strong finish. A strong regular season finish. A strong conference tournament push.

They can ask senior first baseman Karen Mao and junior pitcher Hannah Harley to have successful seasons this year that will make them back-to-back All Conference selections.

More importantly, they can ask senior Kate Reese to be the anchor of this pitching staff and produce another ten-plus win season like she did her sophomore year.

She’s well on her way.

During her All-KIAC-worthy sophomore season, Reese posted a 2.50 ERA in 81.1 innings and pitched on her way to a teambest 11-4 record. The highlight of the season was her no-hitter against Alice Lloyd. Reese struck out four over five innings in the Pioneers’ 12-0 victory.

At Alice Lloyd March 15, Reese tossed a gem. She pitched a two-hitter in the Pioneers’ 11-1 victory to help earn her KIAC Pitcher of the Week honors.

If Reese and Harley can hold down the fort on the mound, there is no reason this Pioneer softball team can’t win the KIAC.

What else can they ask for?

Well, if they get all of the above, all that’s left to ask for is continued victory.