Plum christens new field in winning fashion
After a couple of weeks of dodging bad weather and having to hold practices inside, the Plum softball teams were looking forward to beginning the regular season full of exhibition and Section 2-AAAA contests.
However, more early-spring cold, rain and snow delayed the seasons' start and kept the teams inside a little bit longer than they had hoped.
They waited almost two weeks and endured several game postponements and cancellations, but the season finally got under way last week, as the junior high, junior varsity and varsity teams kicked off their campaigns.
They also played on their new field at the high school for the first time.
“The girls have been working for this for years,” Plum varsity head coach Jim McGrath said. “It was about getting the cost straightened out and finding a place to put (the field).”
The junior varsity got everything started with an 11-1 victory over Seton LaSalle on April 3, as junior Karlie Serakowski connected on a two-run home run for the Mustangs, and sophomore Kaitlyn Mallik followed with a grand slam.
One day later, the Plum varsity christened the field with a three-inning, 17-0 season-opening victory over Penn Hills.
Senior co-captain Annie Workman blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the third to cap the scoring.
“I felt that it was gone as soon as it left my bat,” Workman said.
Workman came close to leaving the yard in her second-inning at bat, as she sent one high and deep to the center field wall for an out.
“I was hoping it was gone. I knew I got a little under it,” she said. “It was high up, and we have a short field, so I was hoping maybe. But it is what it is.”
For Workman, fellow senior captains Amy Flynn and Lyndi Gareis, the other seniors and the rest of the Plum players, the games over the two days were special times after several years of playing at the old field near the former Pivik Elementary School or at the field at the Plum Borough complex along Ross Hollow Road.
“To have a field to call our own is a great feeling,” Workman said. “We kind of felt left out with all the other sports playing at the high school. It's really nice to be up here at the school.”
Plum batters combined to collect 12 hits, including eight for extra bases.
Junior Melissa LeClair smacked the first varsity home run at the new field with a two-run shot in the first inning.
Fellow junior Jordan Seneca doubled, tripled and finished with three hits.
“The whole team contributed, and that is important for us,” Workman said.
“You can't depend on just one or two players. You need all nine to win a game.”
While the bats were on fire, Gareis was putting it all together in the pitching circle. She pitched three perfect innings and struck out seven of the nine batters she faced.
The other two outs were grounders to Gareis and Flynn at second base.
“To get the win and have my defense behind me is great,” Gareis said. “I wouldn't be the pitcher I am without my defense.”
“She has a lot of movement on the ball. She used both the fastball and change-up well,” McGrath said.
“She's got some other pitches as well. She's a workhorse for us.”
The Plum varsity squad is scheduled to play at Fox Chapel on Thursday in a nonsection game at 3:30 p.m.
The Mustangs also are gearing up for a big early-season matchup with section-title contender McKeesport on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Plum High School.
Plum was scheduled to face section foe Gateway on Tuesday, and the game was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.
The Mustangs step away from section play on Monday with a game at 4 p.m. at Franklin Regional.
After several seasons as a section opponent for Plum, the Panthers moved over to Section 1 for the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.
Plum 11, Woodland Hills 6
The Mustangs' strong hitting continued on Friday in a section victory at Woodland Hills.
Plum's five-run seventh was the difference, and Mallik had the big blow of the inning with a two-run home run.
Seneca added three hits, including two doubles and her first home run of the season.
Sophomore pitcher Jess Bitsura got her first start of the season, and she struck out four and walked none in four innings.
Plum 16, Allderdice 1
Serakowski got the call in the pitching circle on Saturday in a Section 2 game at Frick Park, and she helped the Mustangs top the Dragons in four innings.
She pitched all four innings and didn't allow a hit to pick up Plum's second no-hitter in its first three games of the season.
Allderdice's one run was unearned, and Serakowski struck out five and walked none.
Plum collected nine hits and took advantage of eight Allderdice errors.
The Mustangs scored four in the first, five in the second, six in the third and the final run in the fourth.
Seneca tripled and homered in the win, and LeClair added a home run.
Serakowski, Gareis and junior Ashley Oravetz each doubled. Gareis and Flynn each drove in two runs.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.