Plum softball team reflects on special season, tough ending
Friday, May 24, 2019 | 7:01 PM
It wasn’t the way the Plum softball team expected its season to conclude.
The Mustangs shared the Section 2-5A title, won 15 regular-season games and picked up the No. 2 seed for the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.
The players and coaches hoped and prepared for a deep postseason run.
However, it was not meant to be.
West Allegheny, the No. 10 seed, put a sudden halt to Plum’s plans with a 5-4 quarterfinal victory May 20 at Hampton Community Park.
“Honestly, it was extremely heartbreaking,” junior infielder Mackenzie Lake said. “We came in with all the confidence in the world that we could win the game. We’re all still kind of trying to get over it. That hurt.”
West Allegheny led 5-1 after four innings, but Plum rallied with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Plum had a chance in the bottom of the seventh as Lake reached on a single. With two outs, senior catcher Gabby Fischetti lifted a ball down the right-field line. It hit close to the line, and many of the Plum faithful thought it was a fair ball. But the umpire closest to the play ruled it foul. West Allegheny then retired Fischetti to end the game.
“There were two outs, so I just took off when Gabby hit the ball,” Lake said. “My third-base coach held me up, and I was confused as to why. I thought it was fair. Gabby right behind me also thought it was fair. It is a game of inches.”
From his position at the edge of the dugout, coach Phil Dilonardo thought Fischetti had a hit.
“It looked fair, but I wasn’t 100 percent certain,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot you can argue on that call.”
Dilonardo said it was hard to come up with things to say right after the game.
“I didn’t have a season-ending speech prepared because I felt we were going to win that game,” he said. “No matter what you do or how much you prepare, sometimes it’s just not enough. That’s life.”
Plum capped its season at 15-4 overall. It went 13-1 in section play, splitting with co-section champion Hampton. The Mustangs’ four losses came by a combined seven runs.
The playoff bye was the first in program history.
“We accomplished great things and turned over a new leaf this season,” said Lake, a Towson recruit.
“We are going to come back with a majority of the same lineup, and there are other girls ready to step up. The experience of this season will only help us. With what we have coming back, we should be able to do the same thing next year and go even further.”
The program says farewell to a quartet of seniors in Fischetti, Abby Froehlich, Olivia Wendell and Sidney Shanter. Wendell started in right field, Froehlich split time in the pitching circle with sophomore Melanie Mienke, and Shanter was a key reserve in the outfield.
Plum won a total of 49 games and reached the playoffs three times over the past four seasons.
“To the seniors, I say, ‘thank you,’ ” Dilonardo said. “It’s one of the winningest classes to ever come through Plum. They helped produce a lot of good seasons. They helped build the program to where it’s at. Hopefully, it can continue.”
The returning core is led by Lake and Mienke, as well as juniors Alyssa Schofield and Chloe Fabio and sophomore Jillian Durst.
“The girls had a great season and did a lot of things that hadn’t been done before,” Dilonardo said. “They will have good memories of this season to take with them.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
More High School Softball• PIAA Class 2A softball finalists Ligonier Valley, Line Mountain similar
• Mt. Pleasant softball hopes to answer one last call
• Highlands softball savors triumphs during historic season
• PIAA softball notebook: Mt. Pleasant catcher Shawley battles through pain
• PIAA Class 2A softball preview capsule: Ligonier Valley vs. Line Mountain