Zeremenko breaks record as Panthers top Golden Flashes

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Zeremenko breaks record as Panthers top Golden Flashes

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

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Not all record-breaking plays serve as pivotal moments in games.

But on Wednesday, Pitt softball’s Giorgiana Zeremenko’s program-best 16th home run of the season carried her team to a doubleheader sweep.

The Panthers defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes 1-0 in the first game and, thanks to the cushion provided by Zeremenko’s third-inning blast, 3-2 in the second contest of a weekday doubleheader.

Zeremenko’s record-setting mark bested former Panthers Kelly Hmiel and Jacki Haar’s previous record of 15, which they set in 2011 and 2009, respectively.

“The biggest thing about Giorgiana’s home run was that it helped us win that game,” head coach Holly Aprile said in a release. “That’s huge. Her ability to hit the ball out of the park and her slugging percentage, those are difference makers and game changers. She’s continuing to have a great year.”

In the game before Zeremenko’s homer, the Panthers eked out a victory, thanks to a complete game, three-hit shutout by Kayla Harris. Harris continued to produce outs, while only striking out five batters.

The difference in the matchup offensively proved to be Jenna Modic, who launched a solo home run in the fourth inning.

Kent State had opportunities to take the lead in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases twice. But they failed to capitalize, and would go hitless for the remainder of the game, falling to the Panthers by one run.

In the second contest, Pitt matched its run total from game one in the first inning, as McKayla Taylor lined an RBI single to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Kent State immediately rebounded, though, scoring its first run of the doubleheader thanks to an RBI single by Maddy Grimm in the bottom of the first.

Pitt retook the lead in the second as an RBI double by Shelby Pickett gave the Panthers another advantage.

Then, in the third, Zeremenko lofted her record-setting homer over center field, extending Pitt’s lead to two runs.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment knowing that sticking to your approach and just working hard will pay off,” Zeremenko said in the release. “I just need to keep having good at-bats and keep working hard to drive my pitch. Nothing too hard, nothing too special.”

That insurance run would prove necessary, as Kent State’s Ronnie Ladines hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third allowed Grimm to score.

Still, after four solid two-run innings from freshman Sarah Dawson, Modic took the mound and shut down the Golden Flashes, only allowing two hits in three innings of work and sealing the victory.

Pitt improved to 30-15 on the season with the pair of wins. They are off this weekend, returning to the Charles L. Cost Center next week for a series against Florida State University.

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