King’s solid performance does not salvage series


After starting the season with startling success, the once-predatory Panther softball team has become the prey.

The team’s struggles continued on Saturday when Pitt fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Pittsburgh by a score of 3-2, marking its seventh loss in the last eight contests.

The Panthers (25-14, 6-9) sent their best pitcher, senior Savannah King, out to the mound for the final game of the series, hoping to avoid a sweep after losing both legs of Friday’s doubleheader. Even a solid performance from the staff ace couldn’t deliver the team a win.

King, who sports a 15-7 record on the year with a team-leading 69 strikeouts, found help from her offense. The Panthers were the first team to score, and junior infielder Maggie Sevilla grounded out in the bottom of the fourth to score Ashlee Sills.

Pitt’s lead disappeared quickly as Notre Dame answered with three runs of its own in the top of the fifth, giving the Irish a 3-1 advantage.

While the Panthers would narrow the gap to 3-2 following a successful suicide squeeze by Sevilla in the bottom of the fifth, the team couldn’t muster any offense for the remainder of the game.

The Irish’s pitcher, junior Allie Rhodes, blanked Pitt for the final two innings of the contest, surrendering only one walk in the final frames as she secured the series sweep for Notre Dame.

Despite the three runs she allowed in the top of the fifth, King still turned in a strong performance, tossing her 13th complete game of the year, surrendering six hits and striking out four, while walking just one batter. Even with the loss, her coach was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I think that we had a great performance from Savannah [King] on the mound, which is something that we also talked about from a physical and mental standpoint,” head coach Holly Aprile said. “I think that was huge, and I thought we did a really good job at the plate overall.”

Pitt still can secure some much-needed victories this week, as they face a two-game home series against Kent State University on Wednesday at 3 p.m. before traveling to Syracuse University for a weekend three-game set against the Orange.

Aprile said she hoped the losses against Notre Dame will help in these next five games.

“I was proud of our effort and the way we came out today, and I think that’s something we can use going into our series with Kent State and Syracuse next week,” said Aprile. “I think if we can come out with energy and confidence, we’ll have a good series.”