ShareThis Page

Trip to playoffs in the balance this weekend for Penn State New Kensington softball

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Penn State New Kensington's Tarra Oravec fields the ball during warm-ups before a game against Carlow College last season.

The Penn State New Kensington softball team's fate has come down to the final weekend of the regular season.

The Lions, who sit in second place in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, will host two games against third-place Penn State Schuylkill (10-6, 6-4) on Saturday, and first-place Penn State Mont Alto (14-6, 11-1) on Sunday.

PSNK (9-9, 8-4) needs to keep winning to secure the top seed in the PSUAC playoffs. The top four teams in the league make the playoffs. Schuylkill has played two fewer games than PSNK.

“We have our work cut out for us this weekend. Defense and pitching need to carry us through,” PSNK coach Mike Marsili said. “The girls know what's at stake. I won't have to say too much to get them going.”

Outsiders might be surprised at how PSNK's season has developed, especially after a rough Florida trip to start the season. But not Marsili.

“We went to Florida and got in over out heads,” he said. “We played a lot of schools that are much bigger than us. We sort of expected most of what happened. We were surprised by the offensive power figures we have had. It's been mostly an offensive showing.

“Although our pitching has been strong.”

That's thanks to junior Tarra Oravec, a Kiski Area graduate who has contributed offensively and defensively. Oravec's .468 batting average is the 10th-highest in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Oravec also ranks third with five home runs.

“She had a good year last year,” Marsili said of Oravec, who recently was named the USCAA Pitcher of the Week. “We were hoping she'd repeat what she did last year. But she's surpassed it.”

Oravec said personal success is great, but she focuses on the team first.

“I wasn't really expecting (to win pitcher of the week), but it's nice to be recognized,” she said. “We've been more focused and been playing as a team lately. That's what's important. We started to really bring it together.”

Oravec said as the season winds down she and her teammates need to keep the goal of their championship in mind.

“We're close to the top, it's hard to stay focused and not get too confident,” she said. “ We want to try and stay on top.”

Along with Oravec, Marsili was quick to point out how important catcher Rachel Lojas has been to the team.

“Rachel and Tarra have been the heart of our lineup and the heart and soul of the team,” he said. “They've carried us in the middle of the lineup.”

Facing the biggest four-game stretch of the year, Marsili said he expects a cool, confident team this weekend.

“They've made the playoffs the last couple of years, they expect nothing less,” he said. “I don't think we'll have any problems.”

R.A. Monti is a freelancer writer.

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.