With the regular season starting today at Edinboro University, the Slippery Rock University women’s softball team has already played in 14 pre-season games, so far with a record of 6-8.
The team’s season opened at the Shaw University Tournament in Raleigh, N.C. on February 15.
Slippery Rock dropped their first game of the season 3-4 against Ohio Valley University in eight innings despite a complete game (seven innings, seven hits, four runs, eight Ks) by sophomore Ashley Knight.
Junior Breanna Tongel contributed one hit and two RBIs.
As a starter at first base since her freshman year, Tongel has had many opportunities to see her team play.
With over 10 freshmen on the team and three of them being starters, the Rock has a lot of new talent to work with.
“From the games we have played so far I noticed we need to string hits together and be a little more consistent,” Tongel said. “Leaving fewer runners on base when we have scoring opportunities is what we really need.”
Two hours after the start of the first game, the Rock was taking the field for their second game of the season against Bluefield State College out of West Virginia.
Junior Emily Lobdell demonstrated her command and skill against the Lady Blues and tossed a six inning no hitter (eight Ks, three walks) to lead the Rock to their first win of the season by a score of 9-0.
Freshman Katie Kaiser crushed a two-run home run and finished the game with three hits, three runs and three RBI.
Senior Katie Saluga also contributed a home run in the offensive explosion and ended the game with two RBIs of her own. Freshman Megan Maloney also shined against Bluefield going two-for-two at the plate with two runs scored as well as stealing two bases.
Slippery Rock was supposed to continue on in the tournament with three more games over the following two days but due to bad weather the tournament was canceled.
From March 17 to 23, the women’s softball team got to spend their spring break at the National Training Center in sunny Claremont, Fla. where the temperature averaged around 75 degrees the entire week.
With 12 games scheduled over the next seven days there was no foreseeable reason why weather would be canceling any of the contests.
Slippery Rock kicked off the NTC tournament on March 17 with two wins against Queens College of New York in a double header (5-4, 7-0).
Knight picked up her first two wins of the season after striking out a combined fifteen batters between the two games.
Lobdell and senior Amy Erickson also contributed to the first game win. Senior Jenna Geibel crushed her first home run of the season, a three-run blast in the first game.
In the second game of the double header, Saluga and Tongel each recorded a single and two doubles. Sophomore Alaynna Beers contributed two singles and one RBI.
Over the next four days, the Rock
would participate in six games and drop all six contests.
The Rock faced off with University of Minnesota Duluth in an early morning double header on March 18.
The first game was dropped by a score of 3-7 and the second 1-3. Beers ended the day with three hits out of five at bats and scored one run, Maloney finished with two RBIs.
On March 19, the Rock faced off against conference foe Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the New York Institute of Technology. IUP toppled the Rock by a score of 9-3.
Knight took the loss for the Rock and saw her record drop to 2-3. Saluga batted in two RBIs to lead the team in scoring.
The second game of the day against the New York Institute of Technology Bears was also dropped by a score of 9-3.
Erickson was credited with her first lost of the season. Tongel went two for three at the plate batting in one run as well as scoring one.
Following a day of rest, the Rock resumed action on March 21 with chances for redemption against both the University of Minnesota Duluth and IUP.
The first game of the day against UMD was dropped by a staggering score of 0-13.
Two of the UMD pitchers threw a combined no hitter against the Rock, silencing any offensive opportunity.
The second game of day against IUP was less lopsided with a score of 5-4.
Kaiser had two hits, scored two runs and had one RBI and Beers had two hits of her own.
The Rock broke the six game losing streak on March 22 with a pair of one-run wins. In the first game of the day, the Green and White bested the Kutztown Golden Bears by a score of 7-6.
Saluga crushed her second and third home runs of the season. Tongel and Geibel batted in the go-ahead and winning runs in the top of the sixth.
The second game of the day was against the New York Institute of Technology, another team the Rock had the opportunity to get even with.
A close game down to the last inning consisting mostly of small-ball play, there were significant contributions by every player on the field both defensively and offensively.
Geibel hit the game winning in-the-park home run scoring three runs and leading the Rock to an 8-7 victory. Knight was credited with both victories.
The last day of NTC play for the Rock consisted of two games, one of which would be against a team they would later see in the regular season.
The first game of the day was played against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Engineers.
Saluga batted in all three runs in a 3-0 victory with two doubles and a single. Lobdell earned the victory and now has a record of 2-2.
The Rock did not fare as well in the second contest against the Shippensburg Raiders and dropped the game by a score of 10-0.
As a transfer from College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, junior Bethany Beutel is seeing her first collegiate pitching action this season due to lingering injury over the past few years.
“This season we need to play as one team with a common goal. We have a lot of talent and I hope we utilize each players skill,” Beutel said. “We are definitely hitting well and our hitters have seen a lot of live pitching indoors. (Katie) Saluga is batting nearly .500 right now, its nice to see results from our hard work.”
The Rock opens regular season play against Edinboro University Friday at Edinboro, followed by a game at Gannon University on March 30.