Danielle Vittitow hasn’t been officially diagnosed by a doctor, but the Nazareth Academy softball coach’s heart has raced several times watching her squad play this season.
“I think it’s very emotional for her because she knows what each girl is capable of,” senior pitcher Devyn Dydak said. “So when we don’t reach our full potential, I’m sure it’s frustrating.”
Vittitow’s stress starts to bubble over at the end of games. Even though her Pandas have a tendency to go down by a lot of runs, they have a knack for mounting comebacks.
Nazareth has a record of 15-2, and six of those victories are come-from-behind wins. The most recent one came against Villa Maria two weeks ago in the Catholic Academy championship.
The Pandas fell behind early against the Hurricanes, but in the sixth inning they erupted for nine runs to top Villa Maria, 13-6, and become conference champs for the first time since 2014.
“Mentally, we all knew we could win the league and it was a matter of doing it,” senior third baseman Catie Ferry said. “We always had that fire every single game, even when we were down to not stay down and give up but just keep going.”
Vittitow, who played at Pennsbury High and Holy Family University, said she’s never seen a season like this in her playing or coaching career.
“They’re no strangers to comebacks and I say that to them and all they do is laugh at me,” Vittitow said. “I think they actually think it’s funny. They might be doing it on purpose, I’m not sure.”
Ferry, who is eight hits away from her 100th career hit, has played a key part in some of those rallies. In Nazareth’s first comeback win against Hallahan, she had the walk-off hit give the Pandas a 4-3 victory in early April.
But she hasn’t been the only player to dig Nazareth out of a hole. The Pandas have gotten production out of all of their players during comebacks, Vittitow said.
When Nazareth defeated Villa Maria in the championship, junior shortstop McKenzie Tobler had a single and a double in the sixth inning, when the Pandas scored nine runs. She has a batting average of .393 and has scored 20 runs.
“We’ve been down as much as 10-2 in a game, that’s enough to let anybody just lay down in a game, just allow the rest of the game to happen and chalk it up as a loss,” Vittitow said. “They have never ever done that. Not once.”
Since their freshman years, Ferry and Dydak have talked about making a run in districts. Now they have a chance to do that, starting Wednesday against Villa Joseph Marie in the semifinals of the District 1 Class 4A playoffs.