Potent offense, shutdown pitching lead softball

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 8:06 PM
Potent offense, shutdown pitching lead softball by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Christopher Rosato Jr.

If Sunday’s doubleheader sweep at Clarion is any indication, the Edinboro softball season is shaping up to look remarkably different from last year.

The Fighting Scots rode a potent offense to two wins, 19-2 and 8-0, at Clarion in their first action since their spring break trip. They improved to 5-9 in preseason play, while Clarion fell to 0-23.

Their 19 runs in the first game ranks second all-time for the program, and the two wins in a row represents a feat they were unable to accomplish last season.

Head Coach Dan Gierlak said his team came back from their spring trip to Florida and got to work making needed adjustments.

“When you open the season, you’re not sure how kids are going to react,” he said. “We had two weeks basically...to work on the things that we needed to improve on. And you could see a big difference offensively.”

Edinboro got off to a hot start in the first game, scoring at least two runs in each of the five innings. The top of the order produced most of the offense, with the top three spots accounting for eight of their 19 runs.

Graduate student Danna Heh led off the game with a single, followed by characteristically swiping second on a passed ball. Heather Barrett moved her to third on a single to left, then stole second herself. They would both score after Olivia Jankowski grounded out to first and Roni

Lipinski laid down a bunt in front of the plate to get things started for the Scots.

Heh finished 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs. Barrett also finished 2-for-3, but she added three RBIs and a stolen base to go with her three runs. Jankowski added a two-run double and two-run home run en route to six RBIs in the effort.

Carley Nasca pitched all five innings, improving her record to 4-4 while striking out three and giving up just one earned run.

In contrast to the first game, the Fighting Scots scored all eight runs in just the second of five innings in the second game.

Amanda Metz earned her first win of the season with the shutout, striking out six, walking one and surrendering just two hits.

“I think Amanda threw really well in the second game,” Gierlak said. “That might have been her best game overall, hitting her spots and getting ahead of people.”

With runners on first and second, Jessica Little hit a line drive to left field that was misplayed, allowing one run to score and leaving Edinboro with runners on second and third. Shannon Gilbert then grounded out to first base, scoring another run and moving Little to third. She would score when Abby Sallot poked a single into left, giving ‘Boro a 3-0 lead.

Sallot then stole second, moved to third on a Heh single, and scored on a Barrett fielder’s choice. Jankowski scored Heh and Barrett with a single up the middle. After loading the bases, Edinboro would capitalize on an error and a passed ball to make it an 8-0 lead.

“Most of the teams we played early, we didn’t put a bunch of things together,” Gierlak said of the second game. “We had some outstanding at-bats [in the second inning], making the pitchers work, fouling things off and really frustrating their pitchers.”

On Monday, Jankowski was named the PSAC West Softball Athlete of the Week for her performance. She finished the weekend 4-for-7 with eight RBIs and three runs.

“OJ, even in practice, has just been lighting it up,” Gierlak said of the senior outfielder. “Everything she hits is hard...She’s as good a hitter as there is in the conference.”

The mere fact that Edinboro was able to take the field last weekend is itself an improvement from 2018. Last year, their first action after spring break took place in April following four straight postponements. When they visited Clarion April 11, 2018, for their second doubleheader of the season, the second game was rained out following a 13-4 Edinboro win.

That isn’t to say the weekend’s weather was good all around, as their first doubleheader scheduled Saturday at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was postponed to Wednesday. Still, playing Sunday gives hope for improvement over last season’s 11 postponements.

Edinboro is scheduled to travel again Friday to Seton Hill before their first home games Saturday when California University of Pennsylvania comes to town.

Christopher Rosato Jr. | sports.spectator@gmail.com

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