Five Takeaways From Week 2 Of Athletes Unlimited
Week 2 of Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural softball season has brought plenty of excitement to the softball world. From Cat Osterman’s continued dominance to several players putting on impressive power displays, here are five things we learned from the second weekend of action.
Team points matter significantly more than stat points. Before the league debuted, a lot of talk centered around how the concept of a team had been rendered virtually meaningless. But the first two weeks of play have shown that team success is still hugely important. Well over half of all points awarded are team points—all players on the winning team earn 50 points, plus 10 points for each inning in which they outscore their opponent. And inning points are especially significant because they roll over. For example, if neither team scores in the first inning, the team that wins the second inning would win 20 points for each player. In Week 1, six of the top seven scorers were on Team Warren, which went 3-0. This week, Osterman’s team was 3-0, and her teammates D.J. Sanders and Janie Reed were among the top point-getters.
Aleshia Ocasio put together a team of big-time sluggers. In a victory for Ocasio’s Purple team over the Orange team, captained by Samantha Show, Team Ocasio rode a pair of three-run home runs to a 6-4 victory. Caleigh Clifton hit an opposite-field three-run blast in the fourth inning and Erika Piancastelli went yard with two on in the seventh. Then, on Monday, Team Ocasio went deep four times in a 9-5 win over Victoria Hayward’s Blue team. Piancastelli got the scoring started with a two-run shot off Danielle O’Toole in the first inning, and then Team Ocasio blew the game open with three solo homers in the sixth. Jessie Warren and Piancastelli hit back-to-back shots to open the inning, and Nadia Taylor hit a two-out laser beam over the left field wall to complete the scoring.
Piancastelli is still raking. The Italian national team member did not get a ton of attention in college at McNeese State University, a Southland Conference school in Louisiana. But she still became the best hitter in school history, with a .401 average and 75 home runs in four years. Piancastelli has continued to shine in Rosemont, leading the league with four homers.
Osterman continues to show that age is just a number. Osterman was the top scorer in Week 1 with 12 scoreless innings, and she continued her dominance in Week 2. She finally gave up a run on Saturday against Team Hayward, on a long home run by Morgan Howe, but still pitched six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts. Osterman got the win in relief Sunday against Team Ocasio, coming in with her team trailing 4-2 but throwing four scoreless innings as Team Osterman rallied for a 5-4 victory. Then, on Monday night, she threw a complete game, giving up just one hit in a 2-1 win over Team Show while striking out nine. Overall, the 37-year-old has allowed just two earned runs in 29 innings—good for a 0.48 ERA—with 41 strikeouts.
Instant replay was a smart decision. Monday’s game between Team Ocasio and Team Hayward featured two plays that showed why Athletes Unlimited wanted to allow replay reviews. In the bottom of the first, Hayward was initially called out trying to steal second, but the video review clearly showed that she beat Piancastelli’s throw and the call was overturned. Hayward later scored on a single by Hannah Flippen, and her team ended up winning the points for that inning. With two outs in the last of the seventh, Kylan Becker tried to stretch her hit to left field into a triple and was initially ruled safe. The replay, however, showed that Becker was tagged out before reaching third base, and the overturned call ended the game and gave the win to Team Ocasio.