McKeesport, Pa. – In her first season as head softball coach, Victoria Blosser took a team that was non-existent for almost two years and turned them into a contender in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. The team finished 12-12 overall and 11-9 in conference play good enough for a fourth-place finish in the PSUAC West Division.
Back for her second season, Blosser is tasked with continuing that success with a core of young players and three returners from last season’s team. Headlining that group is star pitcher Lacie Lautner (Pleasant Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) and catcher Sydney Fritchman (Carnegie, Pa./Carlynton).
Lautner had an impressive season on the mound her freshman year pitching to a 2.74 ERA in 81.2 IP. She had the third lowest ERA in all of the PSUAC while striking out the fifth most batters in the conference, 87. Lautner was also able to perform well at the plate hitting .250 with one home run and nine RBI in 60 at-bats.
Lautner received several awards for her efforts including being named the 2016/2017 PSUAC Pitcher of the Year. She was also picked as a PSUAC First Team All-Conference selection, and was one of three PSUGA players to win a PSUAC award. She was also able to win two softball pitcher of the week awards throughout the season and will look to be a leader of this year’s team.
Fritchman finished the 2017 season with the third highest batting average on the team hitting .390 with no home runs and 16 RBI in 20 games played. Her .390 average was the highest among all catchers in the PSUAC and the 11th highest out of all position players. Fritchman played very well behind the plate as well with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 20 games while allowing just three passed ball.
While PSUGA lost two very good players in Shelby Bendick and Raeann Sletih, they have brought in a good core of young players who will help this team moving forward. Tara Love (Chandler, Az./Campo Verde HS) and Rachel Abel (Pataskla, OH./Watkins Memorial HS) are just two of the newcomers who look to help this year’s team.
Love, a Chandler Arizona native, helped lead Camp Verde High school to the state playoffs in her junior year and will be set to help Lautner round out the pitching rotation. Love features a six-pitch arsenal including a fastball, changeup, curveball, rise ball, screwball, and drop ball. She played for the Arizona Force travel baseball team and looks to help PSUGA on the mound this season.
Abel will provide PSUGA help at second base as well as being able to play the outfield. She was part of a Watkins Memorial High school team that in 2016, had their first Division I district tournament run where they finished as the runner ups. Abel comes from a successful high school program and will look to continue that success with PSUGA.
The PSUGA softball team will open their season on Saturday March 3rd when they had a double-header against Stratford University. The games will be played at Monroeville Park West located at 2399 Tillbrook, Rd, Monroeville, Pa. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 2 p.m. followed by the second game at 4 p.m.