ON CAMPUS: Indiana grad bounces back after slow start
• EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features area athletes playing college sports. This installment appears every week throughout the school year. If you know of anyone who should be included, email Mirza Zukic at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
After the way her season started, Hannah Harley is relishing the chance to redeem herself. She didn’t necessarily expect it, but she’s making the most of it.
A sophomore pitcher for the Point Park University softball team, Harley has been the most consistent starting pitcher for the Pioneers over the past three weeks after she and the team both got past rocky starts.
Harley has won each of her past six starts, and she is tied for the team lead with seven wins.
The latest outing in that stellar stretch came Wednesday as she improved to 7-2 on the season with a complete-game win in Game 1 of a doubleheader against West Virginia Tech.
She gave up five hits and one run in seven innings.
Her current run is a far cry from the first three weeks of the regular season, when Harley struggled in both of her first two starts and owned a 7.64 earned-run average after her first four appearances.
She gave up 21 hits and 18 runs (16 earned) in her first 14 2-3 innings of the season.
“I had a really bad start. There’s no sugarcoating it. I did not do well,” Harley said matter-of-factly. “And so from there, you really have to lower your expectations, like maybe I won’t pitch this year. And then, when you get your chances, you just kind of have to go and do what’s asked of you. It’s tough to expect anything. I was expecting only a chance. And I’m doing better with those chances now than I was at the beginning of the season.”
That’s for sure. In nine appearances since March 27, she has given up 12 runs (10 earned) in 44 innings for an ERA of 2.05. In six of those appearances, she allowed one or no runs.
Harley has 45 strikeouts in 58 2-3 innings on the season and ranks second on the team in both categories. Her ERA for the season is a respectable 3.10 despite the early struggles, she has yielded 17 walks and opponents are hitting .249 against her.
As a freshman last year, Harley held her own, even if she was “terrified” at times.
She went 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA and ranked third on the team with 12 appearances, including six starts. She logged 42 innings and learned some valuable lessons.
“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is just as vital,” Harley said.
“And this year, I have a lot more confidence on the mound than I did last year. You’re up there as a freshman against these huge girls that know how to rip a ball, and you’re a little terrified. This year I have more ability to place the ball where I want to … so that’s been a huge difference.”
And the reason behind that is because Harley has a much-improved curveball this season.
“I spent a lot of time on my curveball,” she said. “That’s been my go-to pitch for strikeouts, both inside and outside. It’s got enough break that it works in both locations, and it’s been working. My screwball has been helping too, because if you put the screwball in, then throw the curve out, it keeps the batter really guessing as to what to do.”
Point Park has gone 12-6 since March 27, and Harley has six of their wins. The Pioneers (18-14) are 11-7 in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and sit in third place with less than two weeks of the regular season remaining. They have put themselves in good position to make a deep run into the conference tournament.
“I want to take the conference,” Harley said, adding after a brief pause, “so badly.”
LAINA WALKER (Muskingum College, softball): A sophomore infielder, Walker has struggled to find her groove at the plate while seeing limited action for the Fighting Muskies.
A graduate of now-defunct Elderton, she has appeared in 10 of Muskingum’s 30 games. She’s batting .125 (2-for-16) with one RBI. In the field, she has a perfect fielding percentage in 17 chances this season.
In her first action since April 9, Walker got the start at first base in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader against Mount Union. She went 1-for-3 with her first double of the season.
A Division III school, Muskingum is 18-12 (9-5 conference) and sits in second place in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings with four conference games remaining.
TOM SUPINKA (Dickinson College, golf): Supinka has played in three of the Red Devils’ 10 events this season, including two this spring season.
He has carded four rounds with a season scoring average of 86.8. An Indiana graduate, Supinka shot a season-best round of 84 on March 12 in a dual-match win over Gettysburg, the Red Devils’ spring season opener in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
A week later, he posted an 86 at the Dickinson Spring Invitational and finished in a tie for 11th, though he was competing individually, meaning his score didn’t count toward the team tally. He has not competed since then.
In five tournaments this spring, Dickinson has finished in the top five in team standings in four of them.
MELANIE HILLIARD (Mansfield, track and field): A freshman middle-distance runner, Hilliard has quickly established herself as one of the Mounties’ top 800-meter runners. On March 21, she ran a personal-best time of 2:28.54 to take eighth place at the Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
A Purchase Line graduate, Hilliard still needs to drop some time to hit the qualifying mark of 2:23.00 for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship meet.
During the outdoor season, Hilliard has also competed in the 1,500 and appeared on the Mounties’ 3,200 relay.
During the indoor season, Hilliard ran the 800, 1,000 and 500 individually and made appearances on the Mounties’ 1,600, 3,200 and distance medley relay teams. Hilliard was part of the 3,200 relay team that took first place at Cornell’s Kane Invitational on February 1 with a time of 9:57.19.
JORDAN MESORACO (Clarion, baseball): The younger brother of Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, Jordan is a designated hitter and backup first baseman for the struggling Golden Eagles who has seen action in 15 games, including 11 starts. He is batting .175 (7-for-40) with a pair of runs scored and no RBIs and an on-base percentage of .233.
The Punxsutawney graduate shows signs of heating up, though. He had his first multi-hit game of the season on April 9 when he went 2-for-3 against Bloomsburg, which started a string of three straight games with a hit for him.
Coming off a 4-40 season, Clarion is 7-21 and in last place in the PSAC West.
WENDI WALSH (Pitt Titusville, basketball): A graduate of United, Walsh is a guard for the Panthers. Statistics from her freshman season were not available, and coach Kyle Krepps didn’t respond to the Gazette’s requests seeking stats. The Panthers went 11-15 this season.