Pitt softball ends slouch against Notre Dame, finds their offensive identity


Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt graduate student infielder Yvonne Whaley (26) runs between bases during a softball game against Virginia on March 26.

By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer

Heading into the weekend, Pitt softball stared at an eight-game losing streak and a winless start for their campaign in conference play. However, after their weekend bout against Notre Dame, not only did the Panthers win their first ACC series, but they found a powerful offensive identity in the process. 

Pitt (16-15, 2-7 ACC) battled and took down Notre Dame (20-10-1, 5-6-1 ACC), winning two out of three games. The Panthers won Friday night’s game 8-5 and split the Sunday doubleheader, winning game two 13-11 and losing the third game 10-2.

Here are some takeaways from the weekend.

The Panthers’ bats were rolling in South Bend

Coming off a disappointing weekend series against Virginia, which saw the Panthers only score seven total runs, the Panthers knew they needed a wake up call offensively. Pitt not only rose to the challenge but did so in explosive fashion, plating 23 total runs against the Fighting Irish.

The Panthers tallied 12 extra-base hits on the weekend, with four of them coming in the form of the long ball.

Pitt tallied 30 hits over the three games, batting .348 on the weekend as a team. Up and down the lineup, the Panthers had great offensive production. Each Pitt starter reached base on a hit at least once against Notre Dame.

Pitt capitalized on momentum-changing situations

Two of the biggest reasons for the Panthers’ eight-game losing streak was their lack of production in situations with runners in scoring position and their inability to work out of tight pitching jams. However, against Notre Dame, they overcame both challenges.

Early in the second inning of Friday’s game, the Panthers faced a critical situation where they previously struggled. Senior second baseman Kat Rodriguez and sophomore catcher Amanda “Tuta” Ramirez started the Panthers off with two singles, giving them a great chance at taking the lead. 

In her next at-bat, senior third baseman Kayla Lane laid a perfectly executed bunt down the third baseline, causing a throwing error that scored Rodriguez and moved Ramirez to third. Then, senior left fielder Bailey Drapola came to the plate with a chance to put Pitt ahead early in the contest. Drapola rifled a hard-hit ground ball to shortstop, forcing another error from the Notre Dame defense and allowing Ramirez to score. In the next at-bat, first-year Macy Hamilton smacked a clutch single up the middle, adding another run to Pitt’s 3-1 lead.

Later in the bottom half of the same frame, Notre Dame answered Pitt with back-to-back homers, tying the game at three. Graduate student pitcher Abby Edwards entered for an early relief appearance, with the Fighting Irish threatening to retake the lead.

Facing a red-hot lineup, it seemed unclear if Pitt’s defense could overcome the offensive attack. However, Edwards stabilized Notre Dame’s bats, leading the Panthers through the next three innings with only one run allowed. 

Pitt had just a one-run lead late in Saturday’s contest when redshirt sophomore pitcher Dani Drogemuller came in relief for the Panthers. She shut down Notre Dame’s bats completely, tossing three scoreless innings to close out an 8-5 victory.

In the first game of the doubleheader Sunday, Pitt prevailed in a slugfest and won 13-11. The Panthers mirrored their game-one success by powering extra-base hits in situations with runners on. The Panthers exploded in the third inning of their second game against the Fighting Irish, scoring nine runs in the frame.

Later in the game, with Pitt holding onto a lead of 13-10, Drogemuller entered the game facing a late-inning Notre Dame surge. Drogemuller silenced the Fighting Irish bats in her last two innings, recording her third save of the season.

Seamans and Whaley lead the way

Graduate students Yvonne Whaley and Sarah Seamans have come into their own as true leaders for Pitt this year. This weekend, their leadership and timely performances helped power the Panthers to their first ACC series win.

In game one of the series, Seamans and Whaley each had two hits and were responsible for three of the Panthers’ eight runs. Seamans broke Friday’s third-inning tie with a solo shot into the left-field bleachers, improving her season home run total to seven. 

In the next inning, Whaley hammered a double to center, extending her hit streak to 10 games. The hit put Pitt in scoring position, and eventually Whaley scored, giving Pitt a 6-3 lead.

On Saturday, Seamans and Whaley each tallied a double and triple. Seamans had a monstrous day at the plate, going four of give on the day while batting in four RBIs. Seamans and Whaley were ultimately responsible for nine out of the 13 runs Pitt scored.

The Panthers will take a small road trip to Moon Township for a battle against Robert Morris University on Tuesday at 3 p.m.