Plum softball hoping to turn last season’s close losses into wins

Sunday, March 17, 2019 | 10:45 PM

For the Plum softball team, 2018 was a season filled with several close games in which it had an opportunity to win but came up short.

In eight of their 10 losses, the Mustangs lost by three runs or fewer, and four of those eight were by one run. Their only two big losses, 8-2 and 16-3, came at the hands of Section 1-5A champion Penn-Trafford.

Plum narrowly missed the postseason, finishing a win short of a three-way tie for the fourth playoff spot. But those close games gave the Mustangs something to build on this season.

“We were very close in a lot of games last year,” senior pitcher Abbey Froehlich said. “Being so close to winning them makes everybody on the team push even harder at practice, more eager to win and show how much talent we really have on the team all together.”

The Mustangs will be in a good position to do so this season. They finished 9-10, 7-7 Section 1-5A. On top of being involved in all of those close games, they lost only one senior to graduation.

Plum has its share of talent, and it starts with the battery. For the past 10 years, Froehlich and senior catcher Gabrielle Fischetti have worked together — the past four as starters for the Mustangs. But Froehlich sees potential in all of her teammates.

“I have all the confidence in her when she’s behind the plate,” Froehlich said of her relationship with Fischetti. “But everyone on the team is working very hard in practice, and I see a lot of potential in every single one of them. I truly believe we will all have a great season. It will be key for everyone to do their part to succeed as a team as a whole.”

The Mustangs will have a new leader in the dugout, but it won’t be a new face. After serving as an assistant coach for the past eight seasons, Phil DiLonardo has taken the reins.

DiLonardo said he expects a lot from the upperclassmen such as Froehlich, Fischetti, shortstop Mackenzie Lake and first basemen Alyssa Schofield. But he also believes a few of his underclassmen can contribute as well.

“We have a pretty good mix of upperclassmen and new players, and I’m expecting a lot out of our upperclassmen,” DiLonardo said. “But, to be honest with you, I am expecting a lot out of the newcomers as well this season.”

The first goal for DiLonardo will be to return the team to the playoffs. Plum made it to the postseason in 2017, advancing to the quarterfinals before being ousted by eventual WPIAL champion West Allegheny.

Plum will have to find a way to win the close games if it wants to go back to the playoffs. In a tough Section 2-5A, DiLonardo expects to be in a lot of those games again, so this time he wants his team to be ready.

“A little timelier hitting goes a long way,” he said. “But from game to game, you never know what is going to happen. It basically comes down to you scoring more runs than the other team. You need the offense, and you need the defense. You really have to have all three phases.”


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