Players to watch for during Pitt’s 2023 spring sports calendar


Image via Matt Hawley, Pitt Athletics

Pitt’s Felix Wolter jumps over hurdles in the ACC Indoor Championships at Virginia Tech on Feb. 26.

By Richie Smiechowski, Sports Editor

Hot starts, promising outlooks and second-year programs all highlight Pitt athletics’ 2023 spring slates. While the football, soccer and volleyball seasons might be over, there’s still plenty for Pitt fans to look forward to over the next few months. 

Here’s a quick guide of players, coaches and storylines to keep an eye on for each of the respective second-semester seasons.


For the past few seasons, Pitt baseball has shown flashes of talent — most notably in 2021, when they seemed destined for a regional berth but collapsed late in the season. Even last year, the Panthers gave fans a glimpse of their potential with series wins against highly ranked opponents like Louisville and Clemson. 

This offseason, the Panthers took a number of blows to their lineup, losing players mostly to graduation. But head coach Mike Bell and the coaching staff reloaded this offseason with a 24-player class, headlined by former Florida State junior right handed pitcher Dylan Simmons. The two-way player earned Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate baseball in 2020 and showed promise both on the mound and at the plate in 60 appearances with FSU. 

For a successful 2023 season, the Panthers must find two arms capable of replacing the production of former All-ACC pitchers Matt Gilbetrson and Billy Corcoran. Still, fresh off of a contract extension and loaded with new and returning talent, Bell’s team will look to once again exceed preseason expectations. 


It’s no mystery that the softball program has struggled over the past few years. In the years following their impressive 2018 campaign, which saw the Panthers fall one run short of an ACC Championship, the program took a turn for the worse and haven’t shown any forward progress since — most notably finishing an abysmal 2-20 in conference last season. 

The team got off to a very shaky start in their fall games this offseason, punctuated by a double-header sweep against St. Francis. Still, the Panthers demonstrated areas of strength, especially on the mound with sophomore pitchers Adriana Romano and Dani Drogemuller. 

Where the team appears to fall short is on defense — often squandering good pitching performances with costly errors at the worst possible times. If they can manage to limit their mistakes on defenses while continually getting production from bats like All-ACC graduate student infielder Yvonne Whaley, they have a clear opportunity to make forward progress from last season. It’s a long road ahead, but the Panthers have pieces that will allow them to compete with just about any team in the conference. 

Women’s Lacrosse 

For a first year program, head coach Emily Boissonneault and Pitt women’s lacrosse showed the ACC that the potential is there — and it might not take as much time to develop as many might think. 

For starters, in just a single season, Boissonneault gave the team an identity and tangible culture that the players have fully bought into. They had an impressive amount of transfer talent last year and this year added two more transfers in former Syracuse graduate student goalie Hannah Van Middelem and former San Diego senior attacker Camdyn O’Donnell. The team relied heavily on their transfer experience last year and will likely do the same this year, though now almost the entire team has a year of Division I experience under their belt. 

As a conference, the ACC is almost indisputably the toughest in the country. Sure, the Panthers went 1-7 against ACC teams during the regular season, but even notching one win is huge. Plus, Pitt won its first conference tournament game and kept games close against highly ranked teams like Duke. 

Captains graduate student Molly Carter and junior Abby Thorne will likely lead the Panthers on the field alongside O’Donnell this season. Carter sat out all of last season with an injury but was productive in her time at Syracuse. Thorne made her presence known in the Panther defense last season, tallying 28 ground balls and 16 forced turnovers. 

All signs point toward Pitt lacrosse taking another step forward in 2023 — and as the team continues to mature and gain experience, it won’t be long before they’re true ACC contenders. 


Pitt gymnastics is already off to a stellar start in 2023, winning their sole competition of the season against Penn, Temple and Penn State on Friday. Ranked No. 20, the Panthers are the class of the East Atlantic Gymnastic League and looked poised to build on their 10-10 2022 campaign. 

Talented youth is their biggest strength this season, with many of the team’s standout performances coming from first-year athletes at the Keystone Classic. First-year Reyna Garvey and sophomore Sidney Washington both had spectacular season debuts, setting personal records and leading the field in both vault and beam. 

Despite their strong start, the Panthers are set for a much more challenging test at the Wasatch Classic, where they’ll face off against No. 3 California, No. 16 Iowa and No. 26 Oregon State. 

Track & Field

Pitt track & field has a clear headliner for the 2023 indoor and outdoor seasons — graduate student decathlete Felix Wolter is heading into his third season with the Panthers as one of the most decorated athletes in the program’s history. He’s a two-time All-American and former ACC champion, and has high expectations surrounding him in his last season. 

As a team, the Panthers are off to a good start to their indoor season, posting solid performances at their first meet on Dec. 2. Junior Ilse Steigenga put on a fantastic performance in long jump, with her 6.55 meter jump taking second on Pitt’s all-time list. It was just 0.02 meters behind last year’s indoor NCAA championship winning length. 

A number of other Panthers notched top scores and times at the meet including a first place 60m dash run from sophomore Stephon Brown and a first place weight throw from junior Foluke Olujide-Ajibade.

The Panthers next meet is against rival Penn State at the Nittany Lion challenge on Saturday, where they’ll look to build off of their strong start.