With the departure of eight seniors, the Pittsburgh Panthers definitely have vacancies in the field and in their lineup that will need to be filled. At the top of that list is the middle infield, both short stop and second base. Olivia Gray was an All-ACC caliber short stop over the past two seasons, while both Marissa DeMatteo and Alexis Solak were steady gloves at second base.
Gray will be missed at the plate as well. She was second on the team in slugging percentage (.559) and first on the team in on-base percentage (.429) - ruling out players with less than 50 at bats. With just 10 strike outs in 93 plate appearances, she was a very tough out.
First base is another spot in the field that will need to be addressed. Gabrielle Fredericks carried a .991 fielding percentage at the position last season, registering 313 putouts and 14 assists in 330 chances.
Losing Sarah Dawson is a big blow to the pitching staff. Despite playing in just 10 games last season due to injury, she still led the team with a 3.90 ERA. So where does Pitt go from here?
For starters, sophomore Abby Edwards and redshirt junior Brittany Knight return after getting a ton of time in the circle last season. Edwards appeared in 37 games (18 starts) while Knight played in 33 (17 starts).
If head coach Jodi Hermanek is looking to go with veteran players in the infield she may turn to seniors Alexee Haynes and Kaitlyn Kruger to fill a position or two. Juniors Chandler Walter and Morgan Batesole both carried fielding percentages above .900 last season, and got the amount of reps that should instill confidence in Hermanek that she can rely on them.
The outfield will have more stability going into next season. Junior Hunter Levesque is coming off a sophomore campaign in which she was named both an All-ACC and All-Region player. Sophomores Kaitlyn Pavlick and Sarah Seamans gained experience as freshman, and senior Connor McGaffic is both a capable starter and reliable depth.
There’s always the opportunity to change the offensive philosophy of the team without the bigger bats. Sophomore Hannah Bach has speed on the bags and a bunting game that could pair nicely with Levesque at the top of the lineup. Obviously, there will be incoming freshman and potentially transfers that will be in the mix as well.