Mars softball's playoff trip ends sooner than expected
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It was a short playoff trip for the Mars girls softball team.
And a disappointing one.
The Planets saw their season come to a surprising end with a 5-3 loss to West Allegheny in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round game May 16 at Shaler High School.
“This is the most-talented team Mars has had, as a whole, in 15 years,” Mars coach Michele Goodworth said. “It's been tough. When you put so much time into everything; it's hard when good things come to an end, and you know the expectations are that you should still be playing. When you don't fulfill your expectations, it's hard.”
A year ago, Mars won the Section 5 title and returned to the postseason for the first time since 2007. The Planets beat West Allegheny, 6-2, but fell to Greensburg Salem, 5-2, in the quarterfinals.
With many players back, including one of the WPIAL's top pitchers in Taylor Rotz, the Planets looked to advance deeper in the playoffs and challenge for their first district crown since 2006. Mars defended its section title this spring, but ran into a roadblock against West Allegheny.
The Indians struck for five runs in the bottom of the first, two of which scored on an error. That left Mars facing a sharp 5-0 deficit.
“It was just very odd. We were in this position last year,” Goodworth said. “They had four hits and scored three runs and then an error allowed two more to score. Before you knew it, we were down five runs. We were just at a loss to explain it.”
However, Mars responded after the initial shock wore off.
“I just think it was very uncharacteristic. We pulled them in and told them it was time to regroup and change the momentum and we've scored five runs many times,” Goodworth said. “We just had to chip away.”
The Planets did exactly that. Rotz silenced West Allegheny from that point, as the Indians did not advance a runner past first the rest of the game. Mars scored a run in the second and two more in the third, but failed to bring any more home.
“Those last six innings were the best six innings we played as a team. They came tougher and relied on each other,” Goodworth said. “In order to come back, they knew they had to rely on each other. It was good to see them follow through. Unfortunately, our hits and runs didn't fall together at the same time.”
The Planets (9-10) lose Rotz to graduation. She finished with a 9-7 record and 128 strikeouts. She will play softball at NCAA Division-II Nova Southeastern in Florida.
“We'll miss her. It's going to be very difficult losing her,” Goodworth said. “Starting over is always difficult. The girls will have to work harder and do more for us to get further next year.”
The cupboard is far from bare, though. Mars returns eight starters, including junior shortstop Erin Hershman. She led Mars with a .404 batting average, 19 RBI, two triples and a program-record nine home runs. She gave a verbal commitment to play softball at Robert Morris University.
Rotz finished with a .387 average. She drove in 15 and had four doubles. Junior center fielder Kasey Jones hit .345 with 10 RBI and a homer. Sophomore first baseman Suzanne Papik hit .322 with two homers.
Freshman catcher Niki Schlegel (.281), freshman left fielder Blake Kitt (.288), junior designated hitter Jeanna Sybert (.212), freshman third baseman Mallory Eperesi (.204), junior right fielder Sarah Dailey and sophomore second baseman Kiernan Salada rounded out the lineup. Juniors Kassandra Johnson and Shelby Huber saw time in the outfield as well.
Schlegel and Kitt will compete for pitching duties next season. Both saw time in the circle this year.
“It's hard to tell, but right now, I think it'll be a combination of both. Maybe one will pitch three or four innings and the other will pitch the rest,” Goodworth said. “We haven't had that situation in a long time. Normally, we just ride someone a majority of the time. But that might have to be our approach. A lot can happen from now until then, though. There is a lot of room for experience. Both play summer ball, so we'll see. We hope to be back again next year.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Flooding forces evacuation of Ligonier Township residents
- Blue Jays’ Martin has ‘nothing but praise’ for former Pirates teammates
- Penguins need trade-deadline acquisitions to bring toughness
- ‘Time for bold change,’ Wolf says in outlining $30B state budget
- Rossi: Pirates’ post-Martin plan comes with a catch or 2
- Artist born without arms, legs gives Hampton students peek into her world
- Man found fatally shot in Washington
- Monessen school staffer punished for issuing '50 Shades' quiz
- Spring training breakdown: Pirates 8, Blue Jays 7
- Pitt’s Wright excelling in classroom
- ‘Big Mo’ ranks with A-K’s gridiron greats