Softball seniors reflect on their time at Point Park


Photo by Aidan Ringiewicz

The seniors alongside their families at Senior Day and before their game against West Virginia Tech

Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

The Point Park softball team has five seniors this season and each player has put their heart and soul into the sport. The seniors came from different high schools and backgrounds, but all five played together for one Pioneer softball team.

Their journey to Point Park had obstacles and challenges that stood in their way, but they persevered and put in four seasons of work for the Pioneers softball program.

The senior with the shortest distance traveled to attend Point Park University is left fielder Taylor Goldstrohm. She went to West Allegheny High School in Imperial, PA and she chose Point Park because it gave her the opportunity to play multiple sports.

The four-year starter bursted onto the scene and started 37 games in her first year. Nevertheless, softball was not her first option. Goldstrohm committed to Point Park as a track & field athlete and planned on playing soccer, but she ended up dropping track & field. She then joined the softball team and she had no difficulties balancing both softball and soccer.

“I’ve just been doing it my whole life. I was actually committed to doing track here. I wasn’t playing softball. I was in soccer and track,” said Goldstrohm. “I made the switch and I told the coach probably a month before I came and I was like, ‘actually, I just wanna play softball and not track’ but I mean I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of sports my whole life, so it’s been pretty easy.”

Goldstrohm made an immediate impact as a freshman and batted .281 in her first season for the Pioneers. As a sophomore, she improved and held a .433 batting average through 30 at-bats, along with starting all nine games before the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

In her junior season, Golstrohm won the River States Conference (RSC) batting title. She batted .441 and also hit her first career home run.

Her efforts earned her a spot on the all-RSC first team and she also was on the all-RSC scholar team. Goldstrohm dropped soccer that season due to soccer interfering with softball and she ended up choosing softball. She was ecstatic about her success and that she was able to help out the team, especially since she had just recently made an incredibly tough decision.

“I always love producing for my team, no matter what it is and the last year was really special to me because that is the year I stopped playing soccer,” said Goldstrohm. “It was mentally a hard time for me, but I just put all that into softball, and it really worked out for me. I couldn’t do anything without my teammates. They really helped me through everything. They were definitely there for all my highs and lows that season, so it was really nice.”

Her teammates have had a huge impact and she said that they were one of the main reasons she stuck with softball since they stuck with her as well. She also is thankful for her coaches as well and they were the main reason she chose softball.

“My coaches, they have been there for me for four years. That’s why I chose softball because of them, but they have battled with me,” Goldstohm said. “I’ve had a lot of injuries and they battled with me through those. They’ve believed in me. I was a four-year starter, so they’ve really put their faith in me, especially as a walk on.”

Goldstrohm is a legal studies major at Point Park and after she graduates, she plans on going to law school.

Another player who didn’t have a far distance to attend Point Park was catcher Hailey Leitner. The four-year starter went to high school at Cornell High School and she went to Point Park because two members of the softball team on recruiting day were very personable and she enjoyed that about them.

“The two people who actually made me want to come were Katie Tarr and Julia Hoon, who I used to play with my freshman and sophomore year, and they just made the team environment so much better and so fun,” said Leitner. “They had the best humor and really just being at recruiting day and doing a scrimmage with them made me want to come.”

In her first season, she took no time to make an impact as she batted .373, along with 17 RBIs and one home run in her freshman season. Her success led to her making it on first-team RSC She attributes her success to travel softball before the season started since she was playing at a high level. She was grateful that she was able to contribute early on in her tenure.

“I love being able to contribute to the game with a home run on the season and the best batting average on the team,” Leitner said. “I think I had a top 10 batting average in the whole conference and it was great.”

Her sophomore season was cut short and this hurt her and the team’s morale. She thought the team had a legitimate shot to win it all and the team was disappointed since they just got back home from Florida.

In her junior season, Leitner had 3 home runs and batted .282. Nonetheless, she was disappointed with how the season went since her average wasn’t as high as the season before. Leitner still led the team in home runs and started in 31 games. Her efforts earned her a spot on second-team RSC and she was also on the RSC all-scholar team. She was pleasantly surprised that she was all-conference.

“It was great because I didn’t actually think I was going to be all section or all-conference because my freshman year, I got first-team all-conference and from what I did freshman year to what I did last year, it was nothing compared,” said Leitner. “I really didn’t think I was gonna get it, so I was very surprised.”

Leitner was voted team captain in her senior season due to her leadership skills. Although she admittedly voted for herself, the team didn’t mind and the team agreed she’d make a great captain. She won the team vote soundly and she was ecstatic that she was now the team captain.

“I’ve always seen myself as a leader and in that leadership role, I personally think I have that personality. I think I fit that and I was very happy that my teammates also saw that and saw that I’m a motivating person and saw that I want to lift them up when needed.”

Leitner has loved her time at Point Park and loves how the team always comes together. After all, her teammates were the reason she even went to Point Park.

She also said her coaches and head coach Michelle Coultas were impactful during her time as a softball player for the Pioneers.

“Michelle is great. I love her to death. She has a great personality and good coaching skills,” said Leitner. “She’s one of those coaches who will literally sit down and look at the book for four hours straight until the nights are over and she’s ready to go to bed. She knows what she’s doing. And she knows what we’re doing.

Leitner is majoring in Sports Art and Entertainment Management (SAEM) and she is coming back for the 2023 softball season as she pursues her master’s degree in coaching.

The next senior who is graduating this semester is Jodi Frontino. Unlike Leitner and Goldstrohm, Frontino was a transfer student-athlete. She transferred from Mercyhurst Northeast and she transferred because of the education opportunities at Point Park.

Before transferring, Frontino played two seasons for Mercyhurst Northeast and was a superstar for the team. She batted .360 with 3 home runs in her freshman year and she batted .481 with 7 home runs in her sophomore season, which was even cut short. Frontino had no issue going from the high school to the college level.

“I found it to be a pretty smooth transition. It was just a lot. I’m the type of person who loves that kind of intensity,” Frontino said. “When playing softball for 14-15 years, softball is your life in a sense, so I didn’t really have a problem with my life outside of classes being softball, but at the same time, it’s exhausting.”

Frontino enjoyed her time at Mercyhurst, but the schedule was rough as their coach would often schedule 6 A.M. practices. Although she loved the intensity, she said that she is still recovering from the exhaustion from the intense and early practices. Nonetheless, she was happy because she felt like she was living out her childhood dream since she always wanted to play college softball. She was elated that she had the opportunity to be the star of the team.

“Coming out and producing for my team like that, I’ve always wanted to be that person. I really didn’t flourish like that until I came into college,” said Frontino. “I’m small, I’m not the biggest person. So it’s hard to be a stud when you’re 5’2. It was the most amazing feeling in the world knowing my coach and my teammates relied on me like that.”

“Point Park has a super prestigious business school and everything. It’s surrounded by so many businesses in Pittsburgh,” said Frontino “I knew it was a great place for me to be and to excel. Thank God, they had a softball team. Softball wasn’t my first priority in transferring, but luckily, when I did decide to come here, I reached out to the coach and she was more than willing to have me so it worked out super well, obviously.”

Point Park was also closer to home since she went to Seneca Valley which isn’t too far from Pittsburgh. In her first season as a junior for the Pioneers, she played in all 40 games, batted .250 and hit 3 home runs, which was 11th in the entire RSC. She was also on the RSC all-scholar team.

She attributes her success to her teammates as they really helped her through  the transfer process. The practices were more fun for her and there was less stress on her new team. She also believes the team is constantly learning and improving. She loves how the team’s mindset has shifted and everyone is continually picking each other up.

“We’ve all essentially grown since last year. In order to be an elite team, you can’t stay the same, so I really do think that our mindset has changed and has grown since last year,” said Frontino.

Frontino is not using her last year of eligibility to come back for one more season, but she went out with a bang on senior night after having a walk-off double against West Virginia Tech.

She is graduated from Point Park as an international business major and she is in pursuit of a master’s degree in fashion and will be attending Kent State University next year.

Frontino ended her senior night on a high note, but the team would have not been in that position if it weren’t for outfielder Carissa Scekeres. In that game, she hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game to send it into extra innings. Scekeres said that was one of the most fun games of her career.

“That was definitely like one of the most fun games like the team atmosphere. The team energy, we were crazy. It was one most fun games I’ve had at Point Park,” said Scekeres. “It was just like a good competitive atmosphere all around. To be completely honest, I would take a game over that over 15 running a team. Those are just the competitive games I like.”

Scekeres has made an impact for the team for four straight seasons and she went to Point Park after meeting the coaches. She originally didn’t believe that the city of Pittsburgh was for her as it was a change. Scekeres went to Latrobe which is a rural area, so the city was something she had to get used to. She made the decision to go to Point Park, but it took her some time to get used to the atmosphere.

“The city was just not for me. And like, I guess I kind of knew that going into it. But I think I fell in love with the atmosphere… I think the city has given me a different appreciation for culture and stuff I’ve never seen in the country atmosphere like I saw in the city,” said Scekeres. “I feel like I am a better person than I was when I came here.”

In her freshman season, she started 32 games and .236 and stole 9 bases. She said that adjusting to the college softball level was a lot different than high school softball, but she tried everything she could to make the lineup and produce for the team.

“I was just doing whatever I could as a freshman to make the starting lineup and just do whatever I could to be on that field. I love to be on the field, and I love to compete, so it was whatever I could do whether it’s staying that extra 30 minutes to hit a bucket or going at nine o’clock at night after class to hit a bucket in the cage.”

In her sophomore season, Scekeres only played 8 games as the season was cut short and she said that although she was upset, she was even more upset for the seniors when she was a sophomore. She said that the team had a legitimate shot to make a run in the tournament.

In her junior season, Scekeres started all 40 games and held a .236 batting average. She also made the RSC Scholar Athlete team in a row and she was happy that she got the work done on and off the field.

“It’s really cool to be on the scholar athlete team,” said Scekeres. “I think it’s kind of one of those things where I took care of the classroom and athletics so at the end of the day, I was just doing what I could be to keep playing.”

Balancing both school and softball was a difficult challenge, but Scekeres made it work and she said that planning ahead was key with balancing both softball and school.

Scekereres moved from right field to center field in her senior season and she loved the opportunity to play the center field position. She is thankful for her teammates and is happy she got to play alongside her roommate, Goldstrohm.

“she’s been my best friend, my roommate, and my person to lean on when times are tough, or we maybe didn’t have our best game or whatever she was kind of that person to go to, so it’s kind of surreal,” Scekeres said.

She is also thankful for coach Michelle Coultas and the rest of the coaching staff. She believes they played a huge role in her approach to the game.

“It’s a game of failure, so I think it’s kind of interesting,” Scekeres said. “She taught me to not let my emotions get the best of me and always work hard and play the game and play it to the last pitch because the game is not done until it’s done.”

Scekeres graduates with a business management major and a criminal justice minor.

Courtney Shoemake wraps up the list of seniors and since she was redshirted her sophomore season, she is considered a redshirt junior. Nonetheless, she is still technically a senior.

Shoemake is from Frostburg, Maryland, which is about two hours away from Point Park University. She said her main reason for attending Point Park was for a change of scenery. She wanted to experience life outside of Maryland and when she moved to Pittsburgh, the coaches and team helped her adjust to the urban atmosphere.

“The softball team here kind of provided me some stability. I was very comfortable with coach and with the girls and so that was a very big factor,” said Shoemake. “My decision on coming to Point Park was for the softball program. I’m going far away from home, I kind of needed that stability. And so coach and the girls provided me that.”

In her freshman season, Shoemake made one appearance as a relief pitcher and was redshirted her sophomore season.

In her junior season, Shoemake had her most appearances and pitched in 8 games. Shoemake carried a 6.30 ERA and had 1 save during the season. Shoemake is very proud about her improvements.

“I’ve improved a lot since my freshman year, it’s taken a lot of a lot of my own time, a lot of time and practice to kind of get to where I am right now,” said Shoemake. “For me personally, from my time as a freshman, to now, I’ve just been very proud of myself, because I know that I’ve worked very hard to get here.”

In her senior season, she is on pace to make her most appearances so far. Every time she steps on the field and the coach puts her in, she tries to help the team anyway she can.

“Whenever she has the confidence to put me in, I’m grateful for it,” Shoemake said. “I try to help my girls any way that I can because I know that they have my back as well.”

Shoemake said the win over St. Mary’s of the Woods College was huge for the team’s confidence. Since she is a pitcher, she often doesn’t get the chance to hit, but this season, she recorded her first three hits in just four at-bats.

“Pitching was what I primarily focused on, so I haven’t had as much confidence says hitting as I do in pitching just because of how much I focus on pitching my whole life” said Shoemake. “That felt very nice because I know last year, my first at-bat in my whole college career was in Rio Grande, and the nerves got to me.”

Nonetheless, this year, Shoemake has mashed the baseball when she has had the opportunity.

Shoemake is grateful for her teammates as they helped her throughout her career and she’s also glad she received the support from the coaching staff.

“They’ve pushed me to want to be better,” said Shoemake. “At the beginning, they’ve provided me being away from home, being away from my parents, having the coaches kind of provides me some stability, knowing that I’m not here alone as a freshman, I needed kind of that to fall back on.”

Shoemake will graduate with a psychology major and plans on getting her master’s degree in 2023.