Perserverence key for softball

Written By Michael Richter

In the final inning of a game against Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) foe Brescia, starting center fielder Alyssa McMurtrie was up to bat for the Point Park softball team.

The Pioneers were down 7-6, with one out and two players on base. McMurtrie fouled off a couple pitches before consulting with Point Park assistant coach Rob Ferrari.

“He (Ferrari) kept telling me that I was stopping my bat,” McMurtrie said. “When I got into the box, all I could think of was to swing through.”

Subsequently, McMurtrie hit a line-drive single to center field, which allowed pinch runner Haley Wisniewski and first basewoman Karen Mao to reach home plate, securing the Pioneers’ come-frombehind, 8-7 triumph.

“It sounds kind of crazy, but many of us in the dugout were feeling that hit (McMurtrie’s gamewinning single),” Mao said. “I was hopeful and confident, especially after our rally that inning.”

On March 20 and 21, the Pioneers played at Brescia in a four-game series – they won three out of the four contests. The team now has an overall record of 11-7 and a conference record of 7-1. The Pioneers currently rank third in the KIAC standings.

Like the team’s 0-4 start to the season, Point Park started the series against the Brescia Bearcats in an underwhelming fashion. The Bearcats beat the Pioneers 8-7 in game one.

Point Park persevered in the next three games at Brescia.

Point Park head coach Michelle Coultas said, “They are scrappy and don’t give up.”

In the second game, the Pioneers beat Brescia 7-2. Point Park pitcher Hannah Harley limited the Bearcats offense – she struck out seven batters, gave up five hits, allowed only one run and pitched the entire seven-inning game.

“I am very happy with our pitching staff,” Coultas said.

Heading into the top of the fifth in game three, the Pioneers and Bearcats were tied at three. However, the Bearcats scored three runs in the fifth, which gave them a 6-3 lead. In the sixth, Pioneers second basewoman Natalie Zivic hit a home run to cut the deficit to 6-4. In the bottom of the sixth, the Bearcats scored another run.

Down 7-4, the Pioneers scored three runs in the top of the seventh before McMurtrie’s RBI-single completed the comeback win.

“We never give up on any game,” Beitler said. “All we needed was a few key hits, and we got them.”

The Pioneers won the final game of the series versus Brescia 6-1. Harley stymied Brescia again: she pitched another complete game– she also allowed just one run and struck out five batters.

“To be successful in the KIAC, we have to continue to score runs, make the routine plays and stay strong on the mound,” Coultas said.

“This weekend, we did all three.” Geary, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury, hit 7-15 from the plate during the Brescia series which equates to a .466 batting average.

“I’m really proud of Taylor Geary,” McMurtrie said. “She came back from her injury that kept her out of last season, and she is giving 100 percent all the time.”

The Pioneers are 11-3 since going 0-4.

“I think our team as a whole has surprised ourselves and a lot of other people,” Mao said. “Every single person has stepped up and every single person contributes to every win, every play and every loss.”

The Pioneers continue their road trip against Carlow on March 24 and Asbury on March 27.