McKeesport, PA. – 2017/2018 was a historic season for the Penn State Greater Allegheny Softball Team filled with many high moments for the program. They broke the program records for wins in a season as well as conference wins in a season finishing with a 16-10 mark overall and a 14-6 record in conference play while also making the Penn State University Athletic Conference Playoffs for only the second time in the last 17 seasons.
Second-year head coach Victoria Blosser brought in a young team to the season with only nine players on the active roster and only one of those being an upperclassman in Sophomore Lacie Lautner (Pleasant Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson). However, the girls were able to rally behind the fire and passion displayed by Blosser and did all the little things right to set them up for success.
The year started with the programs first ever trip to the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the college spring training event. PSUGA would get to test their abilities against some of the top competition from around the NJCAA and the NCAA Division III level. They were able to hold their own going 2-3 over the five games jump starting them into the regular season.
Their momentum was only just beginning as they got off to their best start in program history winning seven of their first eight conference games which included three doubleheader sweeps including two against PSU-Mont Alto and one over PSU-DuBois. The ladies were riding high with a mark of 9-4 overall and 7-1 in conference play as they sat in first place in the PSUAC West Division.
However, they would then hit a bump in the road dropping five straight contests to PSU-Fayette and PSU-Beaver dropping them to fourth place in the conference with a record of 7-5. The girls and coach Blosser were forced to take a hard look at themselves and get back on track over the final week of the season. They needed to win four of their eight remaining games to make the playoffs and six of eight to break the record for wins in a season.
They were able to accomplish that and more finishing 7-1 over those final eight games and capturing the #3 seed in the PSUAC Playoff Tournament where they would have to face #2 seeded PSU-Beaver for a chance to go to University Park for a chance to compete in the championships.
Their season would end in the first round of the PSUAC Playoffs when they fell to Beaver 6-1. The only offense for PSUGA in that game came courtesy of a solo home run from Freshman Hailey Snyder (Connelsville, PA./Connelsville). Despite the loss, PSUGA has a lot to look forward to with six of their nine girls returning for the 2019 season and a big recruiting class awaiting on the horizon.
Lautner is one of the three who will be moving on to Penn State Main Campus next season leaving PSUGA as one of the top players in program history. She finished the year going 11-3 with a 3.18 ERA while striking out 80 in 83.2 innings of work on the mound and earning PSUAC Honorable Mention as a pitcher. On the other side of the plate, she amassed career highs in average, .403, home runs, 3, and RBI, 33 on her way to a PSUAC Second-Team All-Conference Infielder.
There are also a lot of promising returners for this team including Snyder, Alyssa Guzzie (Fox Chapel, PA./Fox Chapel), and Ivy Mervis (Pittsburgh, PA./Allderdice HS). Guzzie finished second on the team hitting .377 this season with 14 RBI while tying for the team lead with eight stolen bases in her freshman season. Snyder was second on the team with two home runs while hitting .338 and walking a team high 23 times and Mervis finished hitting .339 with 12 RBI while tying for second on the team with 26 hits.
2017/2018 was a historic season for PSUGA with a lot of key contributors returning for next season. This is only the beginning of PSUGA Softball’s success as they look to build momentum into next season and the future.