Going into the doubleheaders on the road against Kutztown and West Chester last week, the Millersville softball team played with the same sense of determination and prowess that forced them to break records throughout the season.
From the first day of fall practice, head coach Jennifer Probst told her players that she wanted them to “buy in”. What she meant was that she wanted them to take what she was teaching and fully believe in it and themselves. Buying into her philosophy has allowed the players to have something to be excited about – breaking records and the winning record.
“This team has done an amazing job of buying in and fully taking to heart what we had practiced for so many months leading up to the season,” Sophomore Rebecca Blatt mentioned.
Blatt referenced to the motivation the team showed for one of their players who suffered a career-ending injury at practice the day before.
“We are a family and we always have each other’s back and sweeping Kutztown proved that we can pick each other up when we get knocked down,” Blatt said. “Sweeping Kutztown to someone outside the team may just look like it boosted our overall record and gave us two conference wins, but it was so much more than that.”
The day of the doubleheader against Kutztown, everybody on the team had something extra to play for.
“Any serious athlete can attest that there are a few things they never want to hear said to them and “You’re playing career is over” is at the very top of that list,” Blatt mentioned. “Those wins were for her and everything this team has been through so far this season.”
Millersville swept Kutztown on Friday, April 6. The Marauders won Game 1 by a score of 8-5 and 7-5 in Game 2.
Millersville got off to a hot start in the first game of the doubleheader against the Golden Bears. Ally Janowiak singled and was later forced into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt by Buskey. An RBI triple to right field would then score Buskey. Shortly after, Maggie Murphy singled to right field which allowed Willenbrock to score. Kutztown then cut the lead after scoring one run in the bottom of the inning.
Senior Megan McCurdy began the top of the second ending with a single to center field. A sacrifice bunt by Devan Masciulli moved McCurdy into scoring position. After a wild pitched forced McCurdy to third, Morgan Almodovar gave the Marauders a 3-1 lead with a sacrifice fly. Kutztown went to work in the bottom of the inning where they cut the lead to 1 after driving a run home.
Millersville then took a 5-2 lead in the third inning with a bases-clearing triple by K. Buskey.
The game remained 5-2 until the fifth inning where K. Buskey added a run with a double to center field to score Ally Kerr and extend their lead to four runs.
The Marauders added insurance runs after Kutztown scored in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Almodovar scored on a throwing error and Janowiak scored on an RBI single by Maggie Murphy.
Freshman pitcher Catherine Johnson pitched her fifth complete game this season and earned her sixth victory. Johnson allowed 13 hits and two walks while improving her ERA to 3.30.
The Marauders tacked on an early 2-0 lead in the first inning after a pair of doubles by Blatt and Murphy.
The Marauders took a 2-1 lead into the second inning where Blatt reached first base by a Kutztown fielding error, which allowed Devan Masciulli to score from second base. Morgan Almodovar drove in the second run of the inning after Willenbrock doubled to center field.
The game would remain 4-1 until the bottom of the fourth when Kutztown’s Jenna Lipkowski hit a home run off to left-field.
The game remained 4-2 going into the sixth inning. Ally Janowiak doubled the centerfield then R. Buskey singled to left field which gave Janowiak an opportunity to advance the third-base.
Then, Blatt came up to the plate. She hit a deep fly ball to right field, which broke the single-season home run record with her eighth home run of the season. Her recording breaking home run scored three-runs for the Marauders in the sixth inning.
“Rebecca (Blatt) has had a quiet confidence about her this entire season and she is a true team player,” Probst said. “I’m proud of her and the team’s accomplishments so far and am excited I get to coach her for two more years,” Prosbt said.
Blatt stated that breaking the home run record stands for a lot more than just her personal statistics. Probst stated that the record was never the focus for her, but executing in the batter’s box to best help her team was.
“At the end of my career it will be great to look back at my stats and see how well I was able to do, or what personal goals I was able to complete,” Blatt commented. “The goal is to leave Millersville softball better than it was before I got here.”
Kutztown would score 5 runs in the seventh-inning. However, the comeback chances for Kutztown was stopped by sophomore closer Emma Bevard, who recorded her first save of the season.
Senior pitcher Cassidy Pinchorski struck out four batters in six innings of work as she earned the victory.
“They (the players) bought into the home run mindset and have worked hard to break the team home run record as well,” head coach Jennifer Probst stated.
Going into the doubleheader against Westchester, the lady marauders had their sights on continuing the winning momentum.
West Chester defeated the Marauders 4-1 with three home runs. Two of those home runs were back to back home runs that came in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Millersville’s only run came in the top of the sixth inning when Devon Masciulli hit an RBI single. Sophomore Allie Kerr scored Millersville’s only run. In the bottom of the sixth, West Chester’s Sara Ercolani tripled left-center field to give West Chester their final run.
Blatt went 4 for 4 in game one with a double and three singles.
Catherine Johnson only pitched 3 1/3 innings and took the loss. She allowed five hits and was pulled after giving up West Chester third home run of the game. Bevard gave up four hits and one run in the 2 2/3 innings she pitched in relief of Johnson.
“As a team, we have something special going on within the culture and mindset of this team and that is something we look to strive for in every game and continue to try and build on no matter winning or losing” Blatt mentioned.
In game two, Millersville lost 10-2 to the Golden Rams. The two teams went back and forth in the first four innings.
Millersville had a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning after Morgan Almodovar doubled the centerfield which allowed Devan Masciulli to score.
West Chester went on an offensive barrage in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Golden Rams scored nine runs.
The game was called after a West Chester two-run double due to the eight-run rule.
Blatt went to for two by scoring two runs. Devand Masciulli also went to for two after hitting an RBI double and the single.
“There is always something that can be learned from a game no matter if you win or lose,” Blatt commented. “We made a statement in the fact that we were able to hit, people played great defense and our pitchers were able to work hard and be tough in many situations.”
On deck for the Marauders
The Marauders are looking to regain the winning momentum as they return home to Sieber softball stadium against Shippensburg on Friday, April 13.
“We have faced a lot of adversity this year and our team continues to face it head on with a positive attitude,” Probst said.
They know how to have fun and show that in every game they played this season. As they return home, the ladies are still determined to continue to break records and win as they strive for the postseason.
“Anyone that comes to a game would be able to notice very quickly that we are extremely loud,”. Blatt said. “We love being able to play the game we all love each other and value the time and effort each person puts into the team.”