The IUP softball team went 3-4 this week with a doubleheader Monday at Seton Hill University and another doubleheader at home against Mercyhurst University Wednesday.
With the solid performance, the Crimson Hawks improved their record to 18-15 and have won eight out of the last 10 games.
“I think we are finding our stride right now,” manager Bill Graham said. “We are executing much better, and we are able to capitalize.”
IUP opened up the Seton Hill series sending Lauren Zola (sophomore, hospitality management) to the mound. Zola pitched 5.1 innings with five strikeouts while allowing no runs in the 7-3 IUP victory.
During the win, IUP recorded seven hits. Leading the way for the Crimson Hawks were Mackenna Miller (junior, kinesiology) and Laura Cotter (sophomore, criminology), who both recorded two hits. Hannah Mercer (senior, marketing), Bryanna Lonick (junior, management) and Kassie Kesneck (freshman, English) all recorded a hit in Game 1.
“It’s nice to see everyone contribute, so we are getting big things from everybody,” Graham said. “That’s part of the reason you’re seeing the team play better: because everyone is getting a chance to do something positive.”
In Game 2 of the doubleheader, the Crimson Hawks played in a much more competitive game that was tied until the top of the fifth inning. IUP sent Macy Mularski (freshman, nursing) to the mound. She pitched 4.1 innings with one strikeout and allowed two runs. Offensively, Mercer, who got three hits while scoring and batting in a run, led IUP.
To open up the Mercyhurst doubleheader, IUP sent Megan Risinger (sophomore, nursing) to the mound. Despite an impressive scoreless first five innings with five strikeouts, Risinger was pulled after allowing four runs to open up the sixth inning.
“It kind of got away from us really fast, and we couldn’t stop the bleeding at that point,” Graham said.
After relieving Risinger, senior Amanda Spindler (mathematics secondary education) did not allow an earned run, but received the loss after two more unearned runs scored. IUP attempted to bounce back, as they answered Mercyhurst’s six-run inning with an immediate three-run inning, but ultimately fell, 6-4.
“It was really good to see. It showed the fight these kids have,” Graham said.
In Game 2, the Crimson Hawks bounced back with a 3-1 victory. IUP once again turned to Zola to pitch this game. In one of her best outings this season, Zola pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts.
“We expect her to give us a good outing every time she is out there because that’s what she is capable of,” Graham said.
Mercer, Kesneck and Kaitlyn Beers (freshman, criminology) led the Crimson Hawks offensively. All three batted in one run.
Moving forward, IUP will return to conference play as they welcome Bloomsburg University for a doubleheader Friday, then travel to Clarion University for a doubleheader Saturday.