Share This Page

PAC all-star softball team gets crack at Team USA

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:55 p.m.
Dave Miller, ADM Photography
Waynesburg and Greensburg Salem graduate Carrie Maier is part of a team of all-stars that will face Team USA in an exhibition doubleheader.
Dave Miller | ADM Photography
Waynesburg and Greensburg Salem graduate Carrie Maier is part of a team of all-stars that will face Team USA in an exhibition doubleheader.
Dave Miller | ADM Photography
Waynesburg and Greensburg-Salem graduate Carrie Maier is part of a team of all-stars that will face Team USA in an exhibition doubleheader.

Kelsey Cunningham graduated as Washington & Jefferson's all-time leading hitter, but the Peters Township product has low expectations for her next softball game.

“I would be happy if I just made contact a couple times,” she said with a laugh.

Cunningham has a good reason: Her next opponent is the U.S. national team.

She is part of an all-star squad of former Presidents' Athletic Conference players who will face Team USA in an exhibition doubleheader at 6 p.m. Thursday at West Virginia's Hawley Field in Morgantown.

Geneva's Van Zanic will coach the PAC team.

“We hope to be competitive, but we know what we're facing,” Zanic said. “We're not looking to shock anyone. We just want them to have a good time and enjoy the experience.”

Team USA will use the games as a tuneup for the World Cup of Softball, which starts Monday in Irvine, Calif., as well as next month's world championships. The matchup came about when the West Virginia Amateur Softball Association of America needed an opponent for the U.S. and approached Zanic. After Zanic consulted with the PAC commissioner, it was decided the team would comprise recent graduates as a way of rewarding them.

The Division III season ended in early May, and most of the players have been working full time since graduation, which has made preparation challenging.

Cunningham said she has been cranking up the speed on a pitching machine in her parents' basement in hopes of staying sharp.

Pitcher Carrie Maier, a Waynesburg and Greensburg Salem graduate, said she has spent countless hours on YouTube trying to learn from elite-level players.

“In college and in high school, I could get away with high heat,” she said. “I feel like, against a team of this caliber, high heat is what they look for. High heat is what goes over the fence. It's definitely going to change my whole game.”

Maier is one of three pitchers on the team. The rest of the 16-player roster features a glut of middle infielders and a shortage of outfielders, meaning Zanic must be creative with his lineup. Cunningham, a natural shortstop, is expected to start in center field. She and her teammates had a chance to work at their new positions during practice Wednesday and will again Thursday afternoon.

The team's goal is to be a tougher opponent than Team USA expects, Maier said.

“I don't want to be batting practice,” she said. “I hope that all of us aren't going to get stuck in quicksand and be able to take it in and roll with it.”

The final score, though, figures to be an afterthought.

“Even if we get killed out there, it's probably going to be one of the best times of my life,” Maier said. “It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, especially for the D-III-caliber player. And they're giving us jerseys, so that's definitely going into a frame. I believe our last names are on the back. I've never had that before.”

Jeff Vella is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jvella@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JeffVella_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.