Panther Bombs Continue PSL Softball Dominance

Photo credit: Lauren Wolfe

While most Pittsburgh sports fans were tuning into the Roansy Contreras start for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or rooting for the Carolina Hurricanes to take a 3-1 series lead over the dreaded New York Rangers, several were instead up on Troy Hill, witnessing one of the most dominant runs in Pittsburgh sports history. The Panthers Bombs have become a mainstay of the Pittsburgh Sports League softball world, and last night showed no signs of slowing down for the bunch.  In their fourth finals appearance in as many seasons, the Panther Bombs took their second championship in an absolute whomping.  By the time the final out was recorded, the score was an embarrassing 23-12, in favor of the Bombs.

The Panther Bombs needed to overcome a sizable deficit in Game 1 of their split double header against the AlcoBallics. Some wild pitching in the 2nd inning by Gold Lot Sports co-founder, Antonio Wolfe, put the Bombs behind, which they’ve grown accustomed to after several seasons of standing behind Wolfe in the field.  Feeling comfort in the need for a comeback, the Bombs never blinked. 

A grand slam by captain Steven Zyra, off the middle of the right field light pole, started a rally that gave the Panther Bombs a comfortable lead.  Wolfe found his control and outstanding Panther Bombs fielding, spearheaded all night by twins Heather Zurcher and Kristen O’Hara, kept their lead and secured Game 1. For the fourth season in a row, the Panther Bombs we’re moving onto the finals.

The wait between games saw the Bombs rooting on their rivals. While One Hit Wonders had given the Bombs fits in the past, it had become known around Gardner Park that DW-NPS, despite being undefeated, felt the need to recruit players for the playoffs. It was a desperate move by DW-NPS knowing that had the first matchup between them and the Bombs gone a full seven innings, DW-NPS would have suffered an opening night loss. 

Tensions ran high as One Hit Wonders and DW-NPS got into several shouting matches over the recruits during their semi-final game. Despite One Hit Wonders most likely being the better team, they couldn’t overcome the dirty tactics of DW-NPS. A ten-run defeat for the Wonders resulted in a finals matchup between the Panther Bombs and DW-NPS. 

DW-NPS would take an early 3-0 lead after one of their recruits hit a towering shot to right field. It was no wonder why the One Hit Wonders chose to walk him every time. Wolfe was too stubborn and proud and paid for it with the longest homerun he’s ever given up.  Statcast had the hit at 580 feet with it coming off the bat a blistering 116 mph.  Wolfe would not make that mistake again.

However, some savvy hitting by the bottom of the order including Mike Pontzloff and Melissa Kumper, reduced the deficit to 3-2. Those two at the bottom of the order consistently getting hits all night, often led to leadoff hitter Nick Kane clearing the bases and collecting RBI. 

DW-NPS must have scouted last week’s matchup between the Bombs and the Wonders as they never did make the mistake of intentionally walking Kane. In the Bombs final regular season game they found themselves down big in the last inning. The Wonders chose to intentionally walk Kane to load the bases in the last inning. 

Bombs’ 2-hitter, Chris Zurcher, did what he’s done all season, and cleared the bases with a triple before O’Hara walked it off with a single.  Zurcher followed up last week with a dozen hits and double-digit RBI last night across the two postseason games. That brings his career postseason OPS to a staggering 1.262.

DW-NPS did make the mistake of intentionally walking Zyra, with the bases loaded no less. As he did last week against the Wonders, Adam Wagner made DW-NPS pay with a run-scoring single. Gold Lot Sports co-founder Brian Torchia, and Megan Tierney, would continue the rally, as they did with line drive hitting all season, and before they knew it, DW-NPS was looking at their first double digit deficit of the season. 

It appeared tensions may boil over as DW-NPS couldn’t handle the thought of losing. The once proud, undefeated, 1st place team were crumbling into spoiled brats right before our eyes. It was similar to when the Soviets couldn't overcome a deficit against the 1980 USA Hockey Team, however the Soviets had years of dominance while DW-NPS were newly at the top of the league.

They began yapping about intentional walks despite walking in a run the inning prior. They even had supporters from the AlcoBallics chirping, who apparently had nothing better to do on a Tuesday than stick around for two hours after their loss. However, it was really only coming from the AlcoBallics losing pitcher who mysteriously didn’t have the correct jersey on. 

Regardless, the Panther Bombs easily won the game against, even with recruits, a much inferior DW-NPS squad. With now four finals appearances in four seasons and two championships, it’s hard not to consider the Panther Bombs a Dynasty.  They will continue their reign of terror into the summer season, albeit with a slightly different roster.  The nucleus will stay the same, however, and we expect the dynasty to continue.