Sotball: Stuck in six-game skid, slumping Panthers host Saint Francis


UPDATE: Pitt’s doubleheader with St. Francis has been moved to Thursday, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Pitt softball tried to play its series finale against North Carolina on Sunday, but the team was stymied by cold weather and frigid rules.

ACC rules prevent teams from playing if the weather doesn’t feel warmer than 32 degrees.

Forecasts say that such an issue might not hinder the Panthers again, but as the team moves on, it hopes that weather isn’t the only thing starting to heat up in Pittsburgh.

The team looks to end its six-game losing streak as it hosts Saint Francis University in a doubleheader today at Vartabedian Field. 

The Panthers (8-13, 0-5 ACC) wrap up their five-game home stand when they take on the Red Flash (13-4) with the opening matchup slated to start at 3 p.m. The second game of today’s doubleheader is scheduled to begin immediately after the conclusion of the first game at approximately 5 p.m.

The Panthers look to right the ship and capture their first win at home this season and their first win in almost a month. Pitt has lost six straight games, including five to conference opponents. During its six-game losing streak, Pitt has struggled to hit and score runs. The team has been outscored by opponents, 40-13.

Despite the recent doldrums, however, Pitt’s hitting has improved. In the last series against the North Carolina Tar Heels, second baseman Maggie Sevilla went 3-for-6 on the day. For Sevilla, two of those three hits drove in two runs in the second game versus the Tar Heels. Tori Nirschl, who had two hits in three at-bats, and centerfielder Carly Thea, who went 2-for-4, also tallied two RBIs in the second game.

Along with timely hitting, Pitt looks to continue to field the ball cleanly. The Panthers have committed at least one error in their past four contests, two of which ended with multiple Pitt miscues.

The Panthers’ opponent today, meanwhile, has seen opposite results recently and has encountered more overall success so far. The Red Flash come into Pittsburgh with a two-game win streak after going 3-2 at the Capital Invitational held in Washington, D.C. But the Red Flash have trouble winning games on the road. 

Saint Francis’ record on neutral sites is 12-2, but on the road, the Red Flash have won just one of three contests.

And now Pitt is pegged with slowing down the Red Flash, who enter the game with their own hot hitting. Saint Francis has seven players on the roster who have a batting average higher than .310.

Leading the Red Flash at the plate is senior catcher and utility player Chelsy Cosentino and freshman infielder and pitcher Alexis Bower. Cosentino leads the team in hitting with a robust .412 batting average, while Bower leads the teams with 21 RBIs and has the second-best batting average at .396. 

Overall, the Red Flash are hitting an average of .317 while opponents only are managing a .270 clip against its pitching.

The Saint Francis pitching staff has also been strong. The team’s ERA is 2.41, and despite allowing 117 hits, the Red Flash have surrendered just 51 runs. Their opponents have really struggled on the mound, as they have a combined ERA of 6.51 and allowed the Red Flash to score 98 times.

And now that a thriving Saint Francis team faces a slumping Pitt squad, those strong Red Flash numbers might only continue to climb.