Florida trip helps New Kensington softball prepare for season

Lady Lions open at Carlow University

The battery of pitcher Tarra Oravek and catcher Rachel Lojas will supply the offensive and defensive power for the 2013 Penn State New Kensington Lady Lions. Credit: Bill Woodard / Penn StateCreative Commons

Playing outdoors for the first time, the Penn State New Kensington softball team defeated St. Vincent College 3-1, during spring break, March 4-8, in Orlando, Fla.

Behind the pitching of sophomore Tarra Oravek (Kiski Area), the New Kensington Lady Lions defeated the Bearcats, an NCAA-Division-III team. Sophomore shortstop Bridget Fisher provided the winning margin with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh. St. Vincent took the second game of the doubleheader, 13-2.

"We played some excellent teams in Florida, and the team saw how the good teams go about their business,” said Marsili, beginning his fifth year at the helm. “They know what we need to improve on. Sometimes you need to face adversity to jell as a unit, and I think they see the light.”

Squeezing seven games into five days, coach Mike Masili’s squad finished with a 1-6 preseason record against teams from Massachusetts, Michigan, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. New Kensington fell to Anna Maria (Mass.) College, 6-1, Finlandia (Mich.) University, 9-2, Coe (La.) College, 15-1, and Susquehanna (Pa.) University, 11-1. Freshman catcher Rachel Lojas (Norwin) connected for her first collegiate home run against Coe.

“Even in the games we lost though, the team played hard to the end,” said Marsili, a resident of Vandergrift. “Hopefully we will use the experience, and this will motivate us to get off to a fast start in conference play.”

Returning to campus means back to indoor workouts, as the fields in the area remain unplayable due to the weather. The New Kensington Lady Lions have a week to practice before opening the season at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, for a doubleheader at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. Marsili hopes the team's home field at Wolf Pack Park in Lower Burrell will be playable for the home opener March 24 against Westmoreland County Community College.

"We have had so much precipitation, the fields will take time to dry out," said Marsili, who reconstituted the dormant softball program in 2009. "I scheduled Carlow as an away game because they have a synthetic turf field. I don't expect to get on our field until the end of the month."

Myrtle Beach was the preseason destination in 2012. The trip helped jump start the New Kensington Lady Lions to a 9-1 record en route to the semifinals of the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs. The team finished with an 11-7 PSUAC record and in third place in the PSUAC.

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Last Updated March 13, 2013