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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Kamalani Akeo talks with members of the womens volleyball coaching staff in 2021.
Kamalani Akeo: An unsung hero contributing to the success of Pitt volleyball
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • 10:10 am

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Kamalani Akeo talks with members of the womens volleyball coaching staff in 2021.
Kamalani Akeo: An unsung hero contributing to the success of Pitt volleyball
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • 10:10 am

Pitt softball has found its stars, but still needs its depth

A+softball+player+runs+during+a+game+against+Davis+and+Elkins+on+Oct.+15%2C+2023%2C+at+Vartabedian+Field.
Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor
A softball player runs during a game against Davis and Elkins on Oct. 15, 2023, at Vartabedian Field.

With only two weeks of play completed, the 2024 Pitt softball team must quickly find an identity before conference play begins. After an up-and-down 5-4 start, first-year head coach Jenny Allard’s team discovered bright spots to build upon. However, some areas of concern desperately need addressing if the Panthers plan to compete in the ACC.

A core has emerged

From on the rubber to behind the plate, some Panthers already proved they are reliable. A core of four batters and a dominant pitcher proved themselves over the past two weekends.

Senior infielder Kat Rodriguez seems to have a breakout season on the horizon. Rodriguez has elevated her game to an entirely new level. She boasts an impressive average of .349 and a team-leading nine hits. Rodriguez has seemingly added a new element to her game, leading the team with three stolen bases, already surpassing her total of two stolen bases last season. She also has displayed improved patience at the plate, with three walks — matching her total from last season.

Junior infielder Ana Hernandez has also grown at the plate. In her first two seasons, Hernandez hit .167 and .105, respectively. In those 20 starts, she recorded eight hits, zero home runs, five RBIs and two stolen bases. In only nine starts this season, Hernandez has impressively matched or surpassed those numbers, becoming an important piece to the Panthers’ offense. So far this season, Hernandez has eight hits, one homer, six RBIs, three stolen bases and a .308 batting average.

Junior infielder Desirae Martinez and catcher Amanda “Tuta” Ramirez round out a solid core of the lineup. Both earned a .304 average off seven hits. Their consistency has proven crucial, providing key RBIs this past weekend to take three out of five. If the Panthers aim to stay above .500, they need more solid performers like Martinez and Ramirez.

The Panther’s definitive ace of the staff, junior pitcher Kyra Pittman, is a much-needed impact transfer. Pittman has come into her own over the past two weeks of the season. She leads the pitching staff with an ERA of 1.26 and opposing batters only hit an average of .250 when she’s on the mound. Pittman received the pitching win in three of Pitt’s five victories and leads the staff with 25.1 innings.

The Panthers’ depth must perform

The players mentioned above need additional support if the Panthers aim to stay competitive, especially as conference play approaches. The other 11 batters possess a combined batting average of just .181. These struggles led to Pitt ranking last in the ACC in batting average at .240. Additionally, the remaining 11 players account for just 23 of the Panthers’ 54 hits on the season.

On the other hand, these players made many important plays when called upon. They contributed 23 runs and 15 RBIs over the past two weekends, often delivering in the clutch.

However, this isn’t sustainable. The Panthers need consistency from top to bottom when the inevitable slumps of a long season come.

The same can be said for the pitching staff. Outside of Pittman, the Panthers conceded 29 earned runs over 34 innings. In comparison to when Pittman pitches, Pitt has given up six earned runs over 25.1 innings. To win games, the Panthers must expand their pitching depth.

Struggles against Power Five

All four of the Panthers’ losses came against Power Five opponents. In these games against Power Five conferences, Pitt’s opponents outscore them 25-1. So far, the Panthers have only faced tough SEC opponents. This remains one of the biggest questions facing Pitt — can they compete against the top talent? 

So far, the answer is no. However, in Allard’s first year, there is room to grow. The Panthers have an entire season to prove themselves and build resilience against the top-tier talent of college softball.

About the Contributor
Alex Porter, Staff Writer