Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Canon-McMillan softball having record-setting season

How can a team surprise its competition less than a year after winning the PIAA Class AAAA softball championship? Ask Canon-McMillan, which ranks second in the nation with 38 home runs this season and is averaging over 10 runs per game.

The gaudy offensive numbers are the product of the Big Macs returning the majority of their offensive weapons; including senior Olivia Lorusso and junior Abby McCartney. The two have combined for 21 of Canon-McMillan’s home runs and 62 RBIs this season.

Lorusso, a Robert Morris recruit, is only eight RBI away from her 2013 total and McCartney has already surpassed the 31 RBI she had last season. McCartney has only struck out once in 50 plate appearances, while both players have on-base percentages that eclipse .600 and slugging percentages over 1.400.

In just 15 games, the Big Macs have hit 10 more home runs than they did in 29 games last season. Does that mean they are flawless?

Not necessarily.

The offensive production is much needed with the Big Macs replacing Observer-Reporter Softball Player of the Year, pitcher Alayna Astuto, and with the surprising struggles Canon-McMillan has had on defense.

Astuto’s replacement, junior Tara Fowler, is 8-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 64.1 innings pitched and a 26-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. They aren’t troubling numbers considering the shoes she has had to fill, but it’s the defense behind her that is a cause for concern.

Canon-McMillan has committed 28 errors in 15 games this season; one year after it was one of the team’s strongest attributes.

Can the offense make up for what the Big Macs lack on defense? Absolutely. This team is not going to continue to have trouble in the field and Fowler will only get stronger as the season continues. A true measuring stick will come Thursday when Canon-McMillan has its rematch with Baldwin after losing to the Highlanders on April 8.
A victory will likely clinch a section title and ultimately, a top-seed in the WPIAL playoffs, where the Big Macs have plenty of experience.

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