Strong pitching fuels win streak Pioneers jump to second in KIAC

Written By Michael Richter

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Down 5-2 in a game at Asbury, shortstop Becca Babincak began the third inning for the Point Park softball team with a single. Third basewoman Gabi Vogt followed with another single. During the successive at-bat, first basewoman Karen Mao hit into a fielder’s choice, which caused Vogt out at second base.

Catcher Jessica Beitler stepped up to the plate with Babincak at third and Mao at first.

“I just kept saying to myself [during the atbat], ‘You’re going to get a hit,’” Beitler said.

Then, Beitler clobbered a three-run homer to tie the game at five in the top of the third; Point Park went on to win 7-5.

Last week, the Pioneers won seven of their eight contests — which were all road games — and they went 6-0 against Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) opponents. The Pioneers currently have an overall record of 18-8 and KIAC record of 11-1.

“I am happy with how we are playing right now,” said Point Park head coach Michelle Coultas. “This team is hungry. I look forward to seeing what they can do the rest of the year.”

On March 24, Point Park swept a doubleheader at Carlow University.

In the first game versus Carlow University, it was not until the fourth inning before either team scored. Point Park right fielder Audrey Eisentrout hit a two-run single. Shortly afterward, left fielder Taylor Geary hit a one-run single, putting the Pioneers up 3-0.

In the seventh inning, Beitler generated a two-run single, which increased Point Park’s lead to 5-0. In a last ditch effort, Carlow scored three runs in the final inning, but the Pioneers thwarted the comeback attempt to win 5-3.

In game two versus Carlow, Point Park won 11-0 in five innings due to “the mercy rule,” which states that if one team has a 10-run or more lead after the completion of the fifth inning, then the game automatically ends.

Pioneers pitcher Hannah Harley pitched the full game – she didn’t give up any runs and allowed only three hits.

Point Park swept a four-game series at Asbury, which began with a double-header on March 27 in snow flurries and temperatures below freezing.

The Pioneers started the first game with a 2-0 edge. However, Asbury scored five runs in the second inning to take a 5-2 lead. In the third inning, Beitler’s three-run homer tied the score. Then the Pioneers scored one run in the fourth and another in the sixth, securing a 7-5 comeback win.

The Pioneers defeated the Eagles 7-4 in game two. Starting pitcher Harley struck out six batters, allowed four runs and pitched all seven innings in the victory.

On the second day of games versus Asbury, the Pioneers won both games in five innings due to the mercy rule. They won 14-5 in the first matchup and 14-0 in the second matchup.

The team faced Berea in a double-header on March 29. Berea scored one run in the opening inning then scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Point Park scored two runs amid the seventh in an attempt to salvage its nine-game win streak, but they fell to Berea 5-2.

“We didn’t have as much energy as usual after the series against Asbury,” Mao said. “I think our team was really feeling the exhaustion from all of the traveling.”

In game two, Vogt hit a RBI-single that scored Geary to give the Pioneers a 1-0 advantage in the first inning; they retained that lead throughout the rest of the game. Harley hindered Berea’s bats; she didn’t allow a single run in the contest.

“We bounced back in game two with the help of Hannah [Harley], said Coultas. “She pitched very well.”

The Pioneers have yet to play a single home game, but are still performing very well . They won 10 of their last 11 games.

“On these road trips, we really bond and mesh well with one another,” said center fielder Alyssa McMurtrie.

For the third consecutive week, a Pioneer was endowed a KIAC award: Mao was named KIAC Softball Player of the week for March 16. During that week, she went 15-26, which equates to a .577 batting average.

“Last year, I hit well against Brescia [one of the teams she played during the week of March [16], so I went into those games confident and hungry,” Mao said. “They bumped us out of the conference tournament last year. It was an opportunity to prove ourselves, and I knew we would be successful.”

The battle-tested Pioneers compete in one more road game against Carlow on March 31, before they play their inaugural home game.

“We are having loads of fun,” Mao said. “We’ve got the talent and the will to make it to nationals, and that’s the end goal.”

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