Plum softball not caught up in numbers game

Friday, May 10, 2019 | 8:10 PM

Nearly half of the players in Plum softball’s lineup have batting averages at .400 or above, but none of them know it.

At least they haven’t looked.

There’s a team-wide pact not to look at individual stats during the season.

“We have never even talked about it,” Plum co-captain Chloe Fabio said. “We all like to keep that separate. Instead of saying ‘Oh, I’m hitting .400 now,’ or ‘I’m hitting .700,’ we just go day to day. We take it one pitch, one batter and one game at a time.”

Here’s what really matters to the Mustangs: 15 wins, a shared section title, a No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a bye to the quarterfinals.

After missing the postseason for the first time in nine years last season, Plum is back in a big way.

The second-seeded Mustangs (15-3, 13-1) shared the Section 2-5A title with Hampton and will play the winner of No.7 Shaler and No. 10 West Allegheny in the quarterfinals May 20 at a site and time to be announced.

Plum won a section crown for the first time since 2014 when it shared the title with McKeesport.

Having their postseason streak snapped last year was a huge motivator this season.

Plum has scored 10 or more runs eight times and has five shutouts.

“Last year, when we did not make the playoffs, that wasn’t something that any of us was expecting,” Plum co-captain Gabby Fischetti said. “To comeback this year and be section champs and getting a high seed going into playoffs is awesome. We’re more of a family this year, and we have each other’s backs. So we know we’re going to go a long way.”

The Mustangs have been able to put up some eye-popping batting averages.

The players will want to skip over this next paragraph.

Gabby Fischetti is hitting .550. Alyssa Schofield’s average is north of .500. Mackenzie Lake is hitting .440, and leadoff hitter Jillian Durst is hitting over .400.

That makes for a lineup filled of tough outs.

“It seems like our hitting is contagious,” Plum coach Phil Dilonardo said. “Someone steps up and gets a big hit and then it just keeps rolling. For example, when we played Freeport (last Monday), we were down 4-2 and the sixth inning came around and we ended up scoring seven runs. It’s was one of those innings where everyone was passing the bat around and scoring a lot of runs.”

The best example of Plum’s ability to put up numbers was in their 14-6 win at previously unbeaten Hampton on May 1 that helped secure a section title share.

The Mustangs lost the first meetin 6-2, but went into the rematch on a six-game winning streak.

“We went in there with the mentality that we were the better team and that no one was going to stop us,” Fischetti said. “We stuck to that, and we just crushed the ball and made the typical plays that we should.”

A potential rubber match with the Talbots looms. Hampton is the No. 3 seed, and the two teams could meet in the semifinals.

Senior Abbey Froehlich and sophomore Melanie Mienke have been a dynamic pitching duo for the Mustangs. They’ve allowed three or fewer runs in 10 of 16 games.

“Abby Froehlich and Melanie Mienke’s innings are about identical, and they have both done very well,” Dilonardo said. “I’ve been at Plum for a long time and rarely have we had two pitchers that good at the same time.”

Plum seems to have all the ingredients to make a deep run. If they are able to reach the semifinals, it will be a big step forward. In the nine-year playoff run prior to last season, Plum reach the quarterfinals only two times.

“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t make a run,” Dilonardo said. “If we play to our capabilities, we can play with anyone. I’m confident of that.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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