During the first two weeks of the 2010 season, the phrase “winning streak” could have only been the subject of fantasy for the softball team. Focus pinned on getting merely one win, after eight games yielded little more than disappointment.
A doubleheader sweep against Mount Vernon Nazarene kicked off conference play two weeks ago, and since then the Pioneers have amassed a 6-2 record and are sitting at second place in AMC standings.
Call them the comeback kids?
The turnaround was signified in perhaps no greater fashion than the run rule victory against Ursuline. The 9-1 triumph was called at five innings, reminiscent of earlier routs but with the key difference that the Pioneers were on the right side of one this time.
There was no doubt as to who was in control of the game as the Pioneers tore open the scoring with four runs in the bottom of the third. Senior centerfielder Morgan Heacock drove in two runs with a triple to center, and found the plate herself after a wild throw from the Urusline outfield. Later in the inning, sophomore shortstop Kristen Atzenhoefer was driven home on a single to right side by junior catcher Laura Ronk.
After the third inning scoring fest, the Pioneers racked up four more in the next two innings to put the game away.
In the rematch, Ursuline kept it tied 3-3 in the third inning, but the Pioneers pulled away in the fourth to cruise to the 8-5 win.
After taking down Ursuline, the Pioneers headed to Walsh on Tuesday. They allowed just a single run in the doubleheader, taking the first game 3-1 and the second 5-0. The wins capped an incredible week that saw four wins for a 6-0 streak, an undefeated conference record, and AMC player of the week honors for both Atzenhoefer and junior pitcher Jessica Krska.
The Pioneers headed to Point Park University for another doubleheader, and were suddenly the team to beat in the AMC. The hosts welcomed the team with every intention of doing just that.
The first game saw steady scoring throughout the six innings as Point Park vaulted past the Pioneers 6-3.
It was the second game that turned heads, however. The Pioneers came back with vengeance, putting up eight unanswered runs in just two innings. The hosts clambered at the very jaws of the mercy rule, but rallied with three runs apiece in the bottoms of the second and third to pull to 8-6.
Point Park then slowly pulled ahead in the heated batting contest that saw 29 hits between the two teams, and held on for the 12-11 win.
Frustrating as the Point Park losses were, the future is looking bright for Pioneer softball. The team remains in second place in AMC standings, just two games out of first. The once dismal season outlook is now full of possibilities.