Plum softball hopes to keep rolling down the stretch

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Friday, April 26, 2019 | 6:50 PM


The Plum softball team outlasted Mars in a nine-inning, Section 2-5A game April 17. The victory clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

But coach Phil Dilonardo said the team hopes to keep rolling in the stretch run of the regular season.

“We have some important games coming up, and the girls are really focused,” Dilonardo said.

Plum was scheduled to play at section foe Hampton on Wednesday in a rematch of a 6-2 Talbots victory April 10. It was the Mustangs’ lone loss through nine section games.

Plum rebounded from that setback with section wins over Gateway and Shaler in addition to the victory over Mars.

“We told them they need to have a short memory, win or lose, and keep on playing and battling no matter what happens,” Dilonardo said. “They’ve bought into that.”

Plum and Gateway play again Friday afternoon at 4 at Plum. The Mustangs beat the Gators, 11-0, in their first meeting.

“I was a little surprised with that score because we’ve always had barn burners with them ever since I got here,” Dilonardo said. “That was a big bounce-back game for us after the Hampton loss. The girls came out and played really well. That was a fun game. I certainly don’t expect that (score) again.

Plum rallied to beat Shaler, 7-5, on April 16. The Mustangs trailed 5-2 after three innings but scored twice in the bottom of the third and three times in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead.

Gabby Fischetti and Alyssa Schofield had RBI doubles in the deciding fifth inning. Fischetti and Schofield lead the team in hitting with .500 averages.

Melanie Mienke scored the win in relief as she struck out eight in 413 innings.

“Even though they got down in that game, they never gave up,” Dilonardo said. “The girls have shown a lot of resilience.”

Abbey Froehlich tripled home Maura Marston with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth against Mars, and Jillian Durst added an insurance run with an RBI triple of her own. Mienke pitched all nine innings and finished with 13 strikeouts.

“Working as a team has really been the key for us,” Froehlich said. “Everyone is doing their job and making plays to help us win. It’s pretty cool to see.”

The close second game with Mars was in contrast to Plum’s 19-5 triumph over the Planets on March 28.

“Typically, at the start of the season, hitters are ahead of pitchers,” Dilonardo said. “We faced the same pitcher (Kali Harris) both times and hit her pretty well the first time. But she pitched a really good game against us the second time. But we stuck with it, and it was a pretty important win for us.”

The win against Mars put Mienke at 5-0 overall with a 0.92 earned-run average. She struck out 35 against only five walks in 3013 innings.

Froehlich, through five decisions, posted a 3-2 record, a 3.35 ERA, 28 strikeouts and six walks in 3113 innings.

“We have a good pitching combination,” Dilonardo said. “That’s really nice to have.”

Dilonardo said the success this season has been a total team effort.

“It hasn’t been just one or two people carrying the team,” he said. “We’ve been getting clutch performances from just about everybody. We select a player of the game, and that player gets a small towel with the words ‘player of the game’ on it to carry around in their bag until the next game. No one has repeated. It’s somebody different almost every game from someone who knocks in a key run, makes a great play defensively or pitches a good game.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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