Pitt softball alumni recognized in Saturday matchup against Clemson Tigers


Image courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Pitt softball player Dani Drogemuller (16) pitches at the softball game vs. Clemson on Saturday.

By Christopher Cornejo, Staff Writer

Pitt softball celebrated its 25th anniversary Saturday at Vartabedian Field, and a pre-game ceremony featured an appearance from members of the 2015 team.

This particular squad reached the ACC Championship Final, and also earned the team its first appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Kayla Harris, a former starting pitcher for the 2015 team, threw out the first pitch to kick off the action. The announcers honored individual alumni in between innings, highlighting their statistics and achievements during their time at Pitt.

Following the opening ceremony, the Panthers (13-19, 1-12 ACC) went on to face the No. 18 Clemson Tigers (29-10, 8-6 ACC). The Panthers came up just short, falling 6-5 to the Tigers, after surrendering a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning.

Former infielder Morgan Batesole was one of many players who returned for the pregame ceremonies. The alumna said she enjoyed being back in Pittsburgh to reconnect with former teammates.

“This is all just awesome and I wish we had this event more because it’s an amazing thing to be back with all my former teammates,” Batesole said. “It’s great seeing everyone back again connecting and sharing this moment together.”

Batesole said she appreciated the event, and how it featured Pitt softball alumni from the very first graduating class to the most recent.

“I love seeing people here from all the classes that graduated through this program, from the class of 1998 to 2010 and even all the way to my own class of 2021,” Batesole said. “Being back on this field is such a great feeling and brings back a lot of memories from my time here.”

Batesole seemed right at home as she surveyed the diamond, mentioning some specific memories that stood out from her time at Pitt.

“If I had to pinpoint some special moments, one of them has to be winning the ACC Coastal championship my sophomore year,” Batesole said. “Our upset over ranked Florida State University also stands out because that was just a huge win for us and added to other upsets that season.”

Batesole also expressed her excitement for the 2022 ACC tournament, which Pitt is set to host this spring.

“I will be here for every game of the ACC tournament,” Batesole said. “We were supposed to host the tournament a few years ago, but obviously things have happened since then, so it’s happening now. But hands down, we have the best field in the ACC and if you’re reading this, come out and support.”

Once the celebration dissipated, redshirt first-year pitcher Dani Drogemuller straddled the rubber and forced the first Clemson batter to ground out right back to her for the first out of the game.

She then proceeded to strike out the following batter, but walked the subsequent one. The fourth hitter reached base after being hit by a misthrown pitch from Drogemuller. This set the Tigers up for a possible scoring situation, but Drogemuller struck out the final batter of the inning, leaving three on base.

Senior infielder Yvonne Whaley led off for the Panthers, but grounded out to sophomore Clemson pitcher Millie Thompson. Junior outfielder Bailey Drapola followed her and crushed a home run to centerfield, putting the Panthers on top 1-0. Senior infielder Sarah Seamans and sophomore outfielder Cami Compson both followed Whaley’s suit, grounding out to the infield and closing the first inning with Pitt up one run behind the Drapola homer.

The Panthers held onto a slim 1-0 advantage going to the top of the fifth. After the first batter struck out, graduate infielder Cammy Pereira approached the box and crushed a homer of her own, tying the game up at 1-1. The following batters grounded out to close the top of the fifth, putting pressure on the Panthers.

Junior infielder Kayla Lane opened the bottom of the inning with a popout to shortstop, and first-year infielder Kylie Griggs followed them out with a groundout to first. With the pressure mounting, Whaley stepped up with a long double, setting up another scoring chance for the Panthers.

Drapola provided just that, homering yet again, this time to right field, to bring in Whaley and re-secure the Panther’s lead 3-1. Seamans followed Drapola up with a triple, due in part to a wild throw that missed the Clemson first base. Compson struck out to end the inning with Pitt leading by two.

Drogemuller walked the first two batters of the sixth inning, with the third popping out to first. A single from first-year catcher Aby Vieira set up a bases-loaded situation for the visitors. The Tigers then scored off of a sacrifice fly from graduate infielder Bailey Taylor, cutting the Panthers’ lead to one and making the game 3-2. First-year infielder Maddie Moore flew out to the infield to extinguish the potential rally.

First-year infielder Haley Brunson opened up the bottom of the inning with a single to first, with junior outfielder EC Taylor coming in to pinch run for her. Senior outfielder Katlyn Pavlick followed up with her own single, putting runners at first and second.

First-year catcher Amanda Ramirez followed up with a sacrifice bunt, placing the Panther runners in prime scoring position but forcing an out. Junior Kayla Lane then reached first base on a fielder’s choice and the Tiger defense tagged out Taylor at home. Griggs then followed up with a single to left-center, allowing Pavlick to score, making the game 4-2. The Panthers did not find any more runs in the inning.

Drogemuller struck out the first Tiger batter in the top half of the seventh, putting the visitors on their heels. But McKenzie Clark then hit a solo home run to right field, cutting the lead back down to one. The Tigers weren’t done yet, as sophomore outfielder Valerie Cagle and graduate outfielder Marissa Gumbarda both hit singles to reach base.

The Panthers were reeling, and although Drogemuller struck out the following batter for the second out, it would not be enough. Sophomore infielder Alia Logoleo hit a crowd-silencing homer to left field, providing the go-ahead runs to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead. Drogemuller followed up by striking out Viera, but the damage was already done.

Compson provided a single to right field to kick off a potential Panthers rally. Brunson followed up the single and struck out swinging, leaving one more batter with an opportunity to steal the game back. Ultimately, Ramirez grounded out to third base, ending the game 6-5 for the visiting team.

Pitt will return to Vartabedian Field on Thursday at 6 p.m. for a three-game ACC series matchup against Boston College (16-19, 3-12 ACC). The teams will wrap up the series with a game at noon on Sunday. All three games will be streamed on ACCNX.