The Gannon University softball team didn’t need all seven innings to take down Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in Sunday’s second matchup of its doubleheader with a 9-1 mercy ruling in the sixth.
The Knights’ dominating performance came on the heels of a 12-5 loss to Edinboro, which took place in the first game of the doubleheader.
Gannon’s weekend results improved its record to 9-11 with a 2-4 mark in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play.
Coach Tom Jakubowski said he wasn’t pleased with the Knights’ showing in the first contest, and decided to shake things up and make some changes.
“We put some people in there that don’t play too much and gave them an opportunity,” Jakubowski said. “They came through.”
Freshman pitcher Olivia Gumbita struck out five batters in her six-inning performance, which helped the Knights to victory.
Junior pitcher/outfielder Jess Rectenwald said that the Knights have a very young pitching staff that is learning from each game.
“We have done well with the first half of the season and hopefully we just get better with time,” Rectenwald said.
Jakubowski said that along with the pitching staff, the entire team is filled with young women learning how to play Gannon softball.
“We knew we would have growing pains,” Jakubowski said. “But we had hoped that if we stayed healthy we would get better as the season went on.”
Jakubowski said that injuries have plagued the team since the Knights’ trip to Florida. He said that the team came home from the Sunshine State with five major injuries.
Jakubowski said that junior outfielder Meghan Cunha will likely miss the remainder of the season with a torn hamstring, and added that senior second baseman Kirstie Cortazzo will miss time with a concussion suffered Sunday.
Jakubowski said that the Knights need Cortazzo to return to the lineup when she is cleared to play.
“I think she is the best hitter in our conference,” Jakubowski said. “Without her, we have what I like to call a doughnut offense.
“We have a hole right in the middle of it.”
Cunha said that she feels, given the circumstances that the Knights have faced, that the team has done as well as it possibly could while coping with injuries.
“A lot of younger players have really stepped up and played a huge role in a couple of big wins against PSAC teams,” Cunha said. “It’s hard not only for players but for coaches to perform at 100 percent when you have to be making changes to your lineup every game.
“It messes with chemistry.”
Jakubowski said that the elongated winter has also negatively affected his team.
“Timing is essential in softball and our timing is off,” he said. “We practice like crazy, but practice isn’t like the game.
“The cold weather will hurt a young team more than a veteran team.”
The Knights’ timing wasn’t helped when Gannon’s doubleheader matchup against Clarion University scheduled for Tuesday was postponed.
The Knights are scheduled to return to PSAC action Thursday when the Knights host Slippery Rock University for a doubleheader.
The first game starts at 2:30 p.m. at Gannon University Field.