PNC Softball went 1-6 the first half of their spring trip but turn it around to go 6-3 the second half and finish 7-9 in Arizona.
The Panthers Spring Break Trip to Tucson, Arizona started off differently than expected. Coach Boardman knew the first three days where going to be a challenge, facing California teams that had already been outside and strong northern competition while the Panthers never even had an outside practice. But neither Boardman nor the team expected a 1-6 start.
PNC's first day saw three losses to two California teams. In game one, the Panthers out hit Hope International University but poor fielding allowed for six unearned errors handing the win to Hope 10-4. Games two and three were against Holy Names University which was an offensive powerhouse, taking both games 9-1 and 10-0.
The Panthers hoped to turn their fortunes around on day two winning their first game of the day against Aquinas, 3-2. However, a tough Siena Heights team took the next two games from PNC 1-7, 4-3.
PNC only played one game on day three against Great Falls University. Despite their best efforts, the Panthers fell to Great Falls 8-2
After a day off, the Panthers returned to the field revitalized and hungry for a win.
PNC faced Iowa Wesleyan in game one of day four. The Panther offense came to life earning 16 hits in the 14-2 win against the Tigers.
The Panthers faced Northwestern University in game two of the day. While PNC's bats remained hot, a critical error allowed Northwestern to capitalize and have a big second inning, scoring seven runs. The Panthers battled back but came up short losing 9-8.
The tough loss didn't dampen the spirits of the team as the Panthers turned around to face their final foe of the day, Peru State University. Another epic battle between the two teams the Panthers grabbed a quick lead and held onto it to defeat a strong Peru team 5-4.
Aquinas, looking for redemption, started day five for PNC. The Panthers were not allowing games to get away today. Despite Aquinas outhitting the Panthers, a solid defensive game gave PNC the win 9-7.
The Panther bats were hot enough to keep the winning going in game two of the day against Iowa Wesleyan. Strong pitching kept Iowa off the bases while PNC put up six runs off nine hits, taking the win 6-3.
On the night cap, a tired PNC team battled Viterbo University. The Panthers took the lead 5-3 in the fifth inning and the defense stepped up to prevent a surging Viterbo team to take the win 5-4.
On the final day of the trip PNC faced Viterbo once again. A now rested Panther team, PNC mustered 11 runs on 13 hits ending the game in the fourth inning due to the 8 run rule, defeating Viterbo 11-1.
The Panthers faced a new foe for the first time in game two of the day facing Alfred University. Mistakes in the first inning gave Alfred a solid lead to start and a hole for PNC. Despite their best efforts and hitting 11 hits in the game, the Panthers came up short losing 6-5.
Cornerstone University would be the last game of the trip for the Panthers. Another hard fought game between two teams, the Panthers offensive well ran dry in the sixth and seventh giving the win to Cornerstone 11-6.
While the Panthers struggled a bit defensively, offensively, the Panthers did very well hitting .316 for the trip. Offensive standouts were Freshman Samantha Jones batting .444 with 16 hits 3 doubles, 5 homers and 13 RBI's and Senior Lindsay Gernenz batting .435 with 20 hits, 5 doubles, 5 homers and 14 RBI's. Four others hit homers during the week; Freshman Hillary Hoffman with 2, Freshman Denise Runge with one grand slam, Sophomore Cassidy Hardesty, and Freshman Ashlee Keil.
The pitching was led by Senior Karissa Inglis with an ERA of 1.94. Junior Jaci Williams turned in a solid performance with a 4.60 ERA. Junior Amber Welsh also was strong with a 4.67 ERA.
Overall, Head Coach Jeff Boardman was pleased with the performance of his Panther team. "We started out a little shaky but that is to be expected coming right out of the gym and onto the field. Assistant Coach Denny King and I saw improvement each and every game and that really is the goal of the Arizona trip. All the girls got to play and improve and now we know what we need to work on and we are ready to go start our regular season and conference."
The Panthers home opener is Saturday March 17th at Patriot Park in Michigan City, Indiana at noon.