IUP traveled to Quakertown Wednesday and Thursday to compete in the double-loss elimination Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship tournament.
The Crimson Hawks were sent packing after three games, each of which was separated by one run.
IUP opened up with a 4-3 loss to California University of Pennsylvania and rebounded with a 2-1 win over Slippery Rock University before being eliminated by Kutztown University in a 3-2 losing effort.
Despite an early exit, the team finished with a 28-19 overall record and 12-8 record in conference, good enough for third in the PSAC Central division.
Entering the season, a lot of the credit was expected to go to IUP’s high-powered offense, but pitchers Brooke Darling (graduate, counseling) and Lauren Zola (freshman, hospitality management) flipped the script and put IUP pitching on the map.
Both players were new to the team this season and made their case as the team’s ace.
Darling and Zola have each received IUP’s female athlete of the week honors.
They combined for a 25-16 record. Darling recorded a 1.90 ERA and Zola recorded a 2.43 ERA.
Although pitching stole the spotlight, IUP still had a productive offense that logged more than five runs per game.
Junior Hannah Mercer (marketing) recorded a .359 batting average while recording 32 runs and 21 RBIs.
Although Mercer and Zola will return, the Crimson Hawks will lose five key players due to graduation and eligibility restrictions: Darling, Rachel Francis (psychology), Allison Viguers (marketing), Amy Fairman (kinesiology, health & sports science), Emily Hoffman (english) and Megan Gould (education).
However, head coach Bill Graham is a proven recruiter.