PREVIEW: Softball team prepared for four games in two days

Looking towards the weekend, Waynesburg’s softball team has a quartet of Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) games that will have a significant impact on playoff implications.

The Yellow Jackets will take on Geneva this Friday in a doubleheader at home before traveling to Greenville, Pennsylvania to take on the Thiel Tomcats Saturday. Both teams currently rank just ahead of Waynesburg in the standings, with Geneva (11-13, 3-3) sitting in fourth and Thiel (9-19, 3-3) in sixth, with Waynesburg (6-18, 2-6) falling just behind in seventh as of Wednesday morning.

For senior first baseman Alex Lawrence, the goal for the team is to emerge from the weekend 4-0.

“Our goal for Geneva and Thiel is to sweep them to push our ranking up into the top four,” said Lawrence. “Winning these games will be very beneficial for us because we want to secure a spot for PAC. We for sure need to sweep Geneva and at least split with Thiel.”

Geneva currently ranks seventh in the PAC in batting average (.264), but is among the top-four in the conference in ERA (3.51). Thiel, on the other hand, has relied on one of the more potent offenses in the PAC to make up for a pitching staff that ranks second-to-last in team ERA (5.62). The Tomcats have hit the cover off the ball so far this year, ranking second in the PAC in batting average (.322), doubles (42), home runs (6) and stolen bases (27).

In order to keep up with the Tomcats in particular, Lawrence said that going hit-for-hit with them may end up being the thing that keeps them afloat in the series.

“Pitching and defense is what will help us contain the bats of Thiel,” said Lawrence. “Also we will have to hit with Thiel and when our bats are on it is contagious throughout the team.”

Waynesburg so far this season has been right around the middle tier of the conference in terms of hitting and pitching. The Waynesburg offense is currently fifth in the PAC in batting average (.276) to go with a 4.21 ERA, which is seventh in the conference.

From a personal standpoint, Lawrence has enjoyed some of her best games of the season recently. The senior captain has four multi-hit games in her last seven and is currently pacing the team in home runs (3) and is second in RBIs (10). Lawrence attributes her recent success to a different mentality she had to embrace due to the strong pitching within the PAC.

“The pitching this year in the conference has been better than it has ever been in the past three years of playing. Usually the first pitch that is thrown is the best one you are going to see the entire at-bat,” said Lawrence. “With the better pitchers I have learned to look for the first pitch to hit. With the slower pitchers I have learned to be more patient with the pitches and look for one that I can drive.”

With 10 games remaining in the season, eight of which are PAC contests, the Yellow Jacket softball team will continue to push towards making the playoffs for the first time since 2011.