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The IUP softball team opened up its 2020 campaign with a four-game series at Glenville State this weekend.

IUP faced West Chester and West Virginia State on Saturday, and Alderson Broaddus and Glenville State on Sunday.

In the first matchup, the Hawks found themselves trailing early in the game as they were faced with a six-run deficit in the first inning.

The Golden Rams’ Emily Maseth kicked off the scoring with a three-run home run, while Annamarie Hartman and Madison Melvin each walked a run in.

IUP managed to post two runs in the second after a Faith Jones (freshman, psychology) single drove in two.

West Chester remained consistent offensively as it put up six home runs during the remainder of the game which contributed to 11 runs during that time.

The Golden Rams walked away victorious in the game, winning 18–2.

The Crimson Hawks returned to the field later that afternoon to face the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets, where the result was the opposite of game one.

Kaitlyn Beers (junior, criminology), returning for her fourth season, was the impact performer on offense, as she hit back-to-back home runs in consecutive plate appearances. 

“The two-homer game was nice and very rewarding,” Beers said, “but ultimately, when I step into the box, my goal is just to make something happen. I know that, with my teammates, it doesn’t matter who is in the lineup, and we are going to make big things happen.

Additionally, freshmen Margaret Russo (biology) and Haleigh Zimmerman (safety science) put up formidable hitting performances.

Russo went 2–3 in the game while Zimmerman batted .500. 

For pitching, Jones recorded her first victory, as she went seven innings and struck out six Yellow Jackets.

“It felt great to be on the mound and to pitch against a competing college team,” Jones said. “We have been pitching a lot to our own team at practice, so it was really nice to get to perform against another team.” 

Jones also commented on the atmosphere of the clubhouse after battling back in game two. 

“Our team talk following the games was very positive and had many laughs and cheers. Coming back with a 3–1 record is very exciting, and we are ready to get rolling in Florida.

After splitting games the first day, IUP returned to Glenville State on Sunday to build a winning record against Alderson Broaddus.

The Skirmish broke the scoring in the first inning after Payton Barr and Brianna Burger each drove in a run.

However, IUP answered back in the bottom half of the inning as Renee Wall (junior, criminology) homered and Jones doubled to center, bringing in the tying runs.

In the third, Rachel Rodriguez (junior, food and nutrition) brought in Zimmerman to put the Crimson Hawks ahead by one.

Forwarding to the sixth, the Skirmish’s Barr drove in the tying run on a 5–4 fielder’s choice, leaving a stalemate headed into the final frame.

Zimmerman would walk it off with a solo home run to left field, giving IUP its second victory of the season.

“One word can’t describe how I was feeling after the walk-off,” Zimmerman said, “but if I had to pick one, it would be excited. Everybody worked hard all game, and to be able to come through for my team at the bottom of the seventh and get the win, it felt amazing.”

This set the tone for the final game, as IUP looked to start an early-season winning streak against Glenville State.

As if the game didn’t have enough excitement before it started, it only grew as the game was scoreless throughout the first five innings. That would be broken by a three-run home run by the Pioneer’s Karra Smith and a solo home run by Mackenzie Martinelli added insurance.

IUP showed resilience, however, as Wall would homer and Shayanne Kimmel (junior, education), who entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth, drove in another.

In the seventh, Zimmerman would provide the offensive spark as she drove in two runs, tying the game.

Anna Ferrucci (freshman, criminology) would give IUP its second straight walk-off win following a double to center that drove in Rodriguez.

“With a roster that is more than half freshmen, we told them pretty early on that they had a special opportunity coming in as underclassman,” coach Shawna Bellaud said.  “They have fully embraced their roles and have taken this opportunity and run with it. 

“Whether it was Jones or Renzi displaying this poise on the mound and being able to give us full seven-inning games,  Haleigh Zimmerman and Anna Ferrucci coming through with two walk-off hits or Faith Jones, Margret Russo and Sara Russell who all had starts this past weekend, they are showing us poise beyond their years and providing a trust that you don’t stereotypically see to fruition until athletes have a few years of experience under their belt.” 

Ashley Renzi (freshman, kinesiology) picked up the game one victory, while Jones won the second.

Beers and coach Shawna Bellaud commented on the team’s atmosphere following the weekend wins. 

“We are a small, young team that has definitely had adversity hit us left and right,” Beers said. “It is hard to tell what this season will bring, but after this weekend we proved to ourselves that we have something to say and that we are ready. I expect it to be an exciting season with big things to happen.”

“The biggest factor in the turn-around games and winning out the rest of the way fully encompassed the resilience and positive attitudes this years’ squad exemplifies,” Bellaud said. “We have 15 competitors on this team that play for each other -– they have the grit and passion to bounce back from a loss which is how they were able to wrap up such a comeback weekend and head into Florida feeling confident and energetic.”

With a series win at Glenville State under their belt, the IUP Crimson Hawks return to the sandlot Friday in The Spring Games at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont, Florida, to face four teams over the break.

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