Softball: Panthers find success at weekend tournament

By Lauren Kirschman

The Pitt women’s softball team went 3-2 at the James Madison Invitational in… The Pitt women’s softball team went 3-2 at the James Madison Invitational in Harrisonburg, Va., this weekend.

Ashley Amistade led the way for the Panthers as she went 9-for-18 (.500) at the plate and scored seven runs. She recorded at least one hit in each of Pitt’s five games, including a game-winning, two-out single in Pitt’s 4-3 victory over Fordham in the 10th inning.

The Panthers started the weekend with a 5-1 loss to Fordham. Freshman catcher Holly Stevens hit her fourth homerun of the season in the first inning, but Pitt was unable to add to the scoreboard after that.

Fordham took the lead in the second inning, scoring two runs off two hits and a Panthers error.

Pitcher Kayla Zinger picked up a loss for the game. She pitched six innings, giving up eight hits and four runs.

The Panthers recovered in the next game, earning a 4-2 victory over Winthrop.

After Winthrop grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Amistade jumpstarted the Pitt bats with a triple in her first appearance at the plate. Reba Tutt walked and advanced to second on a steal. Stevens drove in Amistade, while Yvette Bravo brought Tutt home with a double as the Panthers tied the game at two.

Megan Livesey scored the winning run in the third inning, when she reached home on a botched infield throw. She scored again in the fifth off a single by Stevens.

Head coach Holly Aprile said the Panthers showed significant improvement at the plate during the invitational.

“We reduced our strikeouts, we hit the ball on the ground, we had more quality at-bats and we had a few extra base hits which obviously helped our run production,” Aprile said.

Cory Berliner picked up the win against Winthrop, allowing five hits and tying a season high with six strikeouts.

It was in the next game, a rematch with Fordham, that Amistade drove in the winning run with her extra-inning heroics.

The Panthers scored first in the game, putting two runs on the board at the bottom of the first inning. Fordham, however, answered by scoring two runs of its own at the top of the second.

Fordham took the lead at the top of the fourth inning, but Stevens knotted the game at three with a homerun in the fifth.

Alyssa O’Connell earned the win on the mound, allowing two hits in six innings.

Despite Amistade scoring three runs and batting 3-for-4 against James Madison, the Panthers lost their next game in the invitational 6-5.

James Madison scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead, but Pitt fought back. A pinch-hit RBI from Jessica Rhodunda brought Tutt home and tied the game in the seventh inning.

However, James Madison scored the winning run on a bases-loaded single at the bottom of the inning.

The Panthers ended the invitational with a second victory over Winthrop 4-1.

Pitt scored two runs in the first inning. Stevens scored off a Bravo double, following which Amanda Heitmeier hit her second double of the season to drive in Bravo.

In the third, Amistade hit a single and stole two bases. Bravo drove Amistade home by hitting her 18th double of the season. Amistade then scored Pitt’s final run of the game off a wild pitch at the end the fifth.

Amistade finished the weekend with a triple, a RBI and three stolen bases. She leads Pitt with a .375 batting average.

O’Connell picked up the win, holding Winthrop to one run off five hits.

Aprile said she was impressed with the offensive performance of Bravo and Stevens over the weekend, as the two were responsible for driving in several runs.

Bravo and Stevens led the team in RBIs, with 13 and 15, respectively.

The Panthers’ next game is the home opener against Youngstown State. As the Panthers head into their game, Aprile said she wants to tighten up defense. She said the team played a little sloppy defensively at the invitational.

The Penguins are currently batting over .300 as a team. They drove in 11 runs in their last game, an 11-5 win over Wagner.

The game will be the Panthers’ final home opener at Trees Field, as the team will move into the Petersen Sports Complex, which is under cunstruction on upper campus, next season.