ShareThis Page

PSU Fayette softball team turns focus to hitting

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

In her first season as coach of the Penn State Fayette women's softball team, Bethany Novotny led the Roaring Lions to a 9-7 record in the PSUAC. That was one win shy of the total needed to qualify for the conference playoffs.

A year later, the sting of the narrow postseason miss is still there.

“We showed a lot of potential last year, but a couple that we lost we should have won, and that ended up hurting us,” Novotny said.

One of the biggest culprits in Fayette's inability to clinch a playoff spot was the loss of top hitter Katie Volek to an ankle injury she suffered in midseason. Volek will be a sophomore this year and is expected to play third base.

Volek's return will be a welcome addition. Before her injury, she hit .519 with three homers and 20 RBI. Volek will bat fourth.

“We struggled offensively after that,” Novotny said about Volek's absence. “But she's back this year and offensively, we're definitely looking to improve. We need to score more runs.”

Novotny noted that the team might take a less-is-more approach when it comes to hitting.

“I definitely think we are gaining consistency and we want to keep focusing not so much on power, but on a higher hitting percentage,” Novotny said.

While the team's offensive production is a bit of a question mark, team defense and pitching will be strong.

Sophomores Moriah Kromer and Jessica Stairs, both Mt. Pleasant graduates, will handle most of the pitching duties. Kromer (7-8, 3.01 ERA) was a USCAA honorable mention in 2012. She struck out 88 and walked 11.

Considering that the team will play doubleheaders in conference play, having a one-two punch on the mound is important. Kromer and Stairs also will play shortstop and third base respectively. Volek also can step in and pitch, as can two Connellsville graduates, juniors Paige McWilliams and Samantha Virgillo. McWilliams will play outfield, and Virgillo will see action in the infield.

Sophomore Kaytee Cumberland, a Connellsville graduate, will play second base. Sophomore Shelby Dziak (Bentworth) will do the majority of the catching, and sophomore Stacey Riggar (Uniontown) can be used at a number of positions. Freshman Kelsie Seman, another Connellsville alumnus, will play infield and outfield; sophomore Stephanie Longo (Albert Gallatin) will play first base.

Connellsville graduate Teri Lewis is a freshman outfielder, as are Chelsey Duricic (California) and Taryn Dillie (Trinity).

“I think we have been strong for years defensively, and this is really not an issue,” Novotny said. “Being better offensively will be a game-changer for us. We've been working on our hitting technique and being able to hit multiple styles of pitchers. And I see that a lot of the older players are helping the freshmen.”

The Roaring Lions are in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where they will play a series of exhibition games.

“We want to use them (exhibition games) as live practices,” Novotny said. “And then going into our nonconference games, we want to be competitive. Then, in conference games, we need to not fall to teams we shouldn't lose to. Our ultimate goal is to make it to the playoffs.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.