Softball: Pitt wraps up fall season slate with weekend action

Softball: Pitt wraps up fall season slate with weekend action

By Megan Boyle / Staff Writer

This weekend, the Pitt softball team travels to Moon, Pa., for a Saturday doubleheader against Robert Morris University and California University of Pennsylvania, the final two games of the fall season.

The fall campaign has been used as a learning experience for the 19-29 Panthers, and these last two games will be Pitt’s final prep before their season begins in the spring semester.

Pitt head coach Holly Aprile said that there are advantages to the fall season.

“It’s free substitution, so we’re allowed to see more people in more situations,” Aprile said, in contrast to the usual game substitution limitation. “We use it to get a feel for how we’re going to perform in a game. We scrimmage in practice but it’s just not the same.”

The outcomes of games in the fall do not impact teams’ spring records because the current matches are not considered in-season play. However, that doesn’t mean the Panthers do not take these games seriously. The team must adapt to all of the substitutions and new members of the squad.

“In the fall, we’re trying out new things and getting adjusted with each other,” junior second baseman Maggie Sevilla said. “We’re still a fairly young team.” 

The Panthers’ roster consistsof four freshmen and eight sophomores, with no seniors.

California, like Pitt, fields a young team, as the roster is evenly split between freshmen and juniors. 

Last season, the Vulcans — who face the Panthers Saturday at 1 p.m. — went 38-6. Most impressive about this record, though, is that the team did not lose on the road — a clean 14-0 record. A young force on the team is sophomore utility player Lindsay Reicoff. The Pittsburgh native sported the team’s highest batting average (.401), most RBIs (44) and second-most home runs (13). With Reicoff leading the offense, fellow sophomore Alex Sagl has been dominating the pitching mound. Sagl has a 1.55 ERA and 20-3 record.

As opposed to Pitt and CalU, Robert Morris — Pitt’s opponent at 5 p.m. on Saturday — has a veteran squad that propelled them to a 30-17-1 season last spring. Sophomore infielder Ashley Gerhart, one of eight upperclassmen on the team, leads the squad in hits (50), runs (28), stolen bases (10) and batting average (.347). Junior pitcher Nicole Sleith posted a 1.59 ERA in the spring of 2012 — the best mark by any RMU pitcher since 1998 — while also notching 251 strikeouts and holding her opponents to a .222 batting average. In the 2013 season, Sleith boasted a 1.73 ERA, winning 17 of the 26 games she competed in.

With each opponent posing different strengths, junior infielder Carissa Throckmorton said she expects the team to benefit from such early exposure.

“We have a couple of things to work on, but [these games] point those things out so we can work on them over winter,” Throckmorton said. “That way we’re good to go in the spring.”

At this time of the year, it’s not about wins for the Panthers. According to Aprile, the fall season’s real value lies in the early opportunity to scout the young players on Pitt’s team. The fall games allow for a glimpse of how the players operate as a unit, how they learn to communicate on the field and how they react to situations — all of which will ultimately determine their success when the games really count.