Virtual games help ease loss of season for Belle Vernon softball

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 1:30 PM


Monday was supposed to mark the start of the WPIAL baseball and softball playoffs.

But it was the opening day of the regular season for one team — kind of.

Belle Vernon softball coach Tom Rodriguez, through some figuring and fantasy, drew up the outcomes of the Leopards’ first five games of the season.

With the high school season eradicated because of the covid-19 pandemic, he plans to tweet out “virtual” results each Monday, through the WPIAL and PIAA postseason.

For instance, Belle Vernon opened the season with a 5-2 nonsection win over Greensburg Salem. Rodriguez figured Sophie Godzak would toss a five-hitter with eight strikeouts with the junior adding a double and RBI. Another junior, Natalie French had two hits and three other players had at least one hit.

“There is a little method to my madness,” the longtime Leps coach said. “I looked at last year’s games. I am trying to keep girls upbeat. Some of the better players are mentioned more. I am making sure all 24 players get mentioned in at least one game every five.”

Through his musings, coach “Rod” has BVA off to a 4-1 start.

Senior Jordan Clegg hit a home run against Waynesburg and Godzak smacked a two-run shot in a win over Steel Valley.

The Leopards aren’t going undefeated. Rodriguez is trying his best to be realistic and impartial — it’s not like he still has Bailey Parshall, after all.

The loss came against Latrobe, 4-0. The Leopards, Rodriguez hypothesized, managed just two hits against Wildcats’ junior ace Jordan Tallman, who struck out 12 in this meeting after fanning 15 last season.

Remember, this is Rodriguez’s simulated world so he can have some fun. Belle Vernon pulled a 2-1 upset against rival and class heavyweight Mt. Pleasant, one of the top ranked teams in Class 4A to open the season. Sophomore Ashley Joll knocked in the game-winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh.

“We have a Zoom meeting tomorrow,” Rodriguez said. “There will be a trivia contest to win prizes. We’ll ask 25 questions. Several questions will come from those games. I saw the Penguins did (virtual games) so I said, why not?”

Correct answers to the trivia can earn the girls gift cards to Starbucks.

While Rodriguez isn’t actually coaching and players aren’t playing, the unveiling of projected results can give Belle Vernon something to look forward to during the shutdown.

“Just remember,” Rodriguez said, “it’s virtual.”

But he does bring up a good point.

“No rainouts this year.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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