Softball remains winless in ACC play after dropping three games to Louisville


Colleen Nguyen | Staff Photographer

Pitt senior outfielder Bailey Drapola (24) prepares to bat during a softball game vs. St. Francis on April 6, 2022.

By Ben Pisano, Staff Writer

It’s a new season, but the same problems continue to plague Pitt softball. Last year, the Panthers struggled to win games within their conference, ultimately finishing the season with a 2-20 record in ACC play. This year looks like more of the same, as Pitt lost all three games of its series against Louisville over the weekend.

Louisville established dominance early in the first game of the series, scoring 12 unanswered points in the first three innings. Graduate student pitcher Abby Edwards struggled to contain the Cardinals’ offense, giving up four hits and four runs in the first inning before head coach Jodi Hermanek pulled her from the mound.

Sophomore pitcher Kendall Brown took over for Edwards, but didn’t fare much better, giving up four runs apiece over the next two innings. Junior pitcher Julia Grobman replaced Brown late in the third inning, but Louisville was in complete control. 

Junior outfielder Cami Compson put Pitt on the scoreboard late in the fourth inning with a hit to left field, allowing sophomore utility player Kylie Griggs to reach home plate. Griggs paid it forward in the fifth inning by hitting a sacrifice fly to bring graduate student infielder Yvonne Whaley home. Despite this minimal offensive output, the score deficit was too insurmountable. The game ended in the fifth inning by mercy rule, with a final score of 12-2.

Pitt’s struggles continued in the second game of the series. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Dani Drogemuller held Louisville to four points through the first four innings, giving Pitt some time to put up points of its own. However, the Panthers couldn’t get anything started on offense, going hitless for the first five innings.

In the sixth inning, Pitt’s offense finally woke up. Graduate student infielder Sarah Seamans put the Panthers on the board with an RBI single. Sophomore infielder Haylie Brunson kept the momentum going with a two-RBI double. With two outs and a runner on second base, Compson blasted a clutch double to midfield, tying the game up 4-4.

Drogemuller and the Panthers’ defense expertly held off the Cardinals in the bottom of the sixth, getting all three at-bats out in quick succession. 

Despite an excellent sixth inning, the Panthers failed to capitalize on the momentum shift. On her last pitch of the day, Drogemuller gave up a costly RBI single to Louisville’s Easton Lotus, leading to a walk-off win for the Cardinals. Drogemuller finished the day with eight strikeouts, nine hits and four earned runs.

Pitt and Louisville finished their series on Sunday afternoon. Late at the top of the first inning, Compson hit a double into the left field, giving Pitt its first lead of the series. The lead lasted until the bottom of the second inning, when Drogemuller gave up a home run to Louisville’s graduate student pitcher Taylor Roby. 

Pitt answered with a pair of runs in the third inning, but fell behind again after the Cardinals hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth. Drogemuller finished out the frame, but was replaced in the next inning, ending her day with seven strikeouts, five hits and three home runs in 4.1 innings pitched.

At the top of the fifth, sophomore infielder Haylie Brunson clobbered off a two-run homer to keep Pitt’s hopes alive. But Pitt’s defense gave up two runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth, putting the game out of reach.

Despite a poor overall performance for its ACC opening series, Pitt still has time to get back on track. To qualify for the ACC tournament, the Panthers have to rank within the top 10 in the conference — meaning they need a better record than three other ACC teams. 

Before the team can think about qualifying for a postseason berth, they need to win some games against other ACC teams. For that to happen, the team needs more consistency on both sides of the ball. In the coming weeks, coach Hermanek needs to make pitching a point of emphasis. It’s hard to contend in the Power Five when you give up 12 runs in three innings.

The Panthers have some solid weapons on offense. Seamans is putting up respectable numbers this season, as she holds a .437 batting average, 14 RBIs and six home runs. Yvonne Whaley is similarly reliable at bat, with a team-high .452 batting average, 28 hits and 15 runs.

The upcoming series against UVA will indicate whether or not this team can hang with middle-of-the-pack ACC teams. 

The Panthers will travel to State College on March 21 for an evening game against the Nittany Lions. On March 24 at 6 p.m., the Panthers will return to Vartabedian Field for their home opener against UVA.