There’s a lot that you can say about the current state of affairs in the country and in the world. But as it pertains to spring collegiate athletics for the Pittsburgh Panthers, Athletic Director Heather Lyke, summed it up perfectly a few days ago.
Like every program in the country, the suspension means the Pitt Softball team (8-12) will have to stay off the field for the foreseeable future. An unfortunate, albeit unpreventable, situation as the team was beginning to hit their stride after integrating so many new pieces.
For starters, the departure of Marissa DeMatteo, Alexis Solak and All-ACC performer Olivia Gray, the middle infield needed a complete overhaul. Freshman Hope Alley was injected into the lineup immediately. Fellow freshman Kayla Lane entering the lineup just five games into the season, and spent of majority of this month as the starting short stop. Junior transfer Lolo Sanchez also spent time in the middle infield, and mostly served as the teams designated player this month.
Sophomore catcher Hannah Bach proved to be far more than just a base runner. Through 14 games, she recorded six total bases in only 11 plate appearances and stole two bases in as many attempts. Classmate Sarah Seamans also stepped to the forefront in her second season. She recorded her first collegiate home run - a grand slam - at Clemson earlier this month.
The outfield, however, was a place of a stability. With sophomore Katlyn Pavlick fully recovered from an injury that marred an otherwise terrific freshman season, she solidified herself as a corner outfielder and leadoff hitter. She was leading the team in home runs (4), total bases (34) and slugging percentage (.586) while starting all 20 games this season. Junior center fielder Hunter Levesque joined her in that distinction, having played in and started all 20 games. Levesque was batting .321 and carrying an 11-game hitting streak when the season was suspended.
Third baseman Morgan Batesole is the only other Panther that played in and started all 20 games. The junior was arguably the toughest out at the plate, having only struck out fives times in 45 plate appearances.
On the mound, redshirt junior Brittany Knight assumed the leading role this year. Through 14 games and nine starts, Knight carried a 4.65 ERA, down from 5.90 last season. Joining her was sophomore Abby Edwards and newcomer Becca Miller.
The suspension of play, while unfortunate for all the Pitt players, is especially disappointing for the seniors. Kaitlyn Kruger was leading the team with a .333 batting average and tied for the team in hits with 18. Connor McGaffic was batting .300 in 50 plate appearances while playing in 18 games, including 17 starts. Catcher Walker Barbee continued to add stability behind the plate, and Alexee Haynes batted .324 in 13 games.
While 8-12 doesn’t seem like an impressive record, the seeds of success had been planted. For now, the Panthers and head coach Jodi Hermanek will need to wait to reap their rewards, but when they’re able to, Hermanek will have her team moving in the right direction.