BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford softball team is set to begin its 2019 season with four games in the Mountain Mash in Salem, Va., Friday and Saturday.
Pitt-Bradford is guided by 16th year Head Coach Tina Phillips, who has amassed 307 career wins as a softball head coach and 260 victories at Pitt-Bradford.
This season, the Panthers return 14 players and bring in six freshmen.
"I'm pretty optimistic heading into this season," Phillips said. "We have so many returners back this year, so now it's time to get back into the AMCC tournament. This group has been competitive, but now it's time to take it to the next level."
A First Team honoree, Hillery was one of the top hitters in the AMCC during conference play with a .432 batting average. East led the team with 17 RBIs, 38 hits, 24 runs scored and 56 total bases and was named the NFCA Fastpitch National Player of the Week on April 10.
Back for the Panthers as key returners are seniors Grace Dadzaa (.319 avg, 16 runs) and Liz Dzurisin (54 at-bats, two doubles) and juniors Betty Fratercangelo (.235 avg, 11 RBIs), Sophia Fratercangelo (22 at-bats, three RBIs), Melissa Nye (.256 avg, seven RBIs) and Lindsey Hull (.222 avg, five RBIs).
"We're going to have to hit this year," Phillips said. "Our pitching and defense are there, so we just need the offense. Maddy and Madison are going to have to have the years they had last year and we'll need Grace to have the year she had two years ago and Liz to add some power."
Also returning to the diamond are sophomores Jessica Milliron (10 games, two runs), Gabby Carpenter (39 at-bats, eight hits), Kendra Colegrove (26 at-bats, seven hits) and Chandler White (15 at-bats, four RBIs).
In the circle, Jordan Uhing (2.22 ERA, 5-3, 29 strikeouts) and Kerrigan Hoffmann (4.33 ERA, 4-4, 13 strikeouts) return for their sophomore seasons, while freshmen Melanie Davis (Roaming Shores, Ohio) and Maeghan Wynn (Pleasantville, Pa.) join the pitching staff.
"Jordan has looked great so far this year," Phillips said. "She's going to be our ace. We're going to look to Kerrigan to play a big role as well, helping our two freshmen. They're going to do their job. We're just going to need to score the runs to support them."
"Our freshman class brings a lot of versatility for us," Phillips said. "Mackenzie and Jess can play a lot of different positions. Katie is a very strong catcher and Hannah offers some pop at the plate."
A season ago, Pitt-Bradford went 14-18 overall and 6-10 in conference play, finishing ninth in the AMCC.
"We've got a big junior and senior class that has put in the work and is looking to rebound from last season," Phillips said. "We had a nice Fall season and they've been working hard in the gym, so it's time for them to go out there and get it done. I'm excited for this team."
Pitt-Bradford will open its season Friday at 12 p.m. against Frostburg State before taking on the two-time defending national champion Virginia Wesleyan at 4 p.m.
After two more contests Saturday, the Panthers will head down to Fort Myers, Fla., for 10 games March 12-17.
The Panthers' home opener is set for Saturday, March 23, against Westminster and Pitt-Bradford will open AMCC action March 27 hosting Penn State-Behrend.