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Softball earns five wins in Florida spring break games

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

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The Pioneer softball team spent spring break in central Florida enjoying the sun and gearing up for the upcoming regular season.

The Spring Games in Clermont, Florida hosts more than 300 teams annually for the largest softball event in the country. After playing 13 games, the Pioneers finished 5-8 overall, an improvement from the 2-10 record the team posted last year in Florida.

The team kicked its spring season off with an 8-2 win against Brandeis University. Sophomore Ashley Iagnemma threw a complete game, finishing with nine strikeouts and two earned runs. Iagnemma is returning for her second year after finishing the 2016 season with a 10-10 record and 2.16 ERA. In her first year she was named the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) newcomer of the year, and earned a spot as an all KIAC first team member.

The Pioneers faced No. 11 Weber International the same day following the Brandeis victory. After seven innings, a 3-3 tie sent the game into extras. In the eighth inning Freshman Katie Tarr gave up 11 hits allowing eight runs as the Pioneers suffered their first loss of the season, 11-3.

Freshman first baseman Caitlin Corey reached base twice against Weber after registering her first hit in a Pioneer uniform.

“I think we hung in with a lot of the teams we lost to,” Corey said. “Weber International is one of the better NAIA teams and we stayed in the game until that last inning.”

Point Park bounced back the following day with a pair of wins. The first was an 11-4 victory against Middle Georgia State University. The Pioneers took a 3-0 lead in the first inning en route to the win. Senior Becca Babincak finished 4-for-5 at the plate, while Iagnemma threw her second complete game.

Another new addition to the team, freshman Paula Ambrose, scored a run while making her Pioneer debut against Middle Georgia. Ambrose reached base on a walk in the fifth inning and was driven in after.

“I think spring went great,” Ambrose said.  “I personally don’t like playing indoors as much and it felt great to start playing again.”

The team picked up its third win later that day against St. Thomas University by a score of 5-4. Trailing 4-3 heading into the seventh, the Pioneers came from behind as Jess Beitler drove Babincak for the winning run. Tarr picked up her first win of the season after giving up only one hit in three innings pitched.

The Pioneers dropped two contests against University of Michigan Dearborn and Wheeling Jesuit University on day three of the trip.

In the first game, Point Park registered both runs in the bottom of the second of the bats of freshman Amber Cook and Sophomore Chelsea Rogel. Iagnemma picked up her first loss of spring after allowing four earned runs. In the end, the Pioneers fell to the University of Michigan Dearborn 6-2.

Point Park fell to Wheeling Jesuit University 4-0 three hours later. Sophomore Tiffany Edwards earned the loss in six innings pitched.

Point Park turned things around the next day picking up a 5-3 win against Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Iagnemma notched her third victory with a complete game, allowing one earned run.

The Pioneers fell to Gannon University 3-1 in the day’s second game. Babincak went 2-for-4, while Senior Alyssa McMurtrie went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

In a rematch against Mount Vernon Nazarene, the Pioneers took their final win of spring in eight innings with a 1-0 final score. Edwards pitched a complete game for Point Park and allowed just four hits.

Point Park dropped its final three spring games to Calumet College, Calgary University of Michigan and the No. 2 Xavier University. The team is remaining confident heading into the regular season, as much of the spring is used for development.

“The first half of spring we were trying things out with our lineup, but by the second half we figured out a lineup that we think will work out,” Ambrose said.

The Pioneers’ final loss against Xavier University was a 1-0 final, as Xavier pulled ahead in the sixth inning on back-to-back doubles. Edwards pitched in the final contest allowing only one earned run on five hits.

The team left Clermont with a 5-8 overall record, three more wins than last year’s spring season.

The Pioneers hit for a team average of .248 and allowed 19 errors on the field, four more than last year. Babincak lead the team individually at the plate with a .449 average.

“The team was disappointed in how they did last spring, so everyone feels great about the outcome of this year’s trip,” Ambrose said.

The Pioneers finished the 2016 season with an overall record of  23-19, and went 14-4 in conference games. After graduating three seniors last year, the program added six freshman to the roster for this year’s campaign.

The Pioneers will host Gannon in the first regular season game of the season Mar. 18 at Lind Field at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Twp.

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