Name: Abby Gustovich
Gustovich’s week: The Bulldogs’ pitcher helped Beth-Center’s bid for a playoff spot in Class AA with 14 strikeouts in the circle and four doubles, three RBI and two runs in a come-from-behind 8-7 win over Chartiers-Houston Thursday.
She followed the performance Friday by tossing a three-hitter with six strikeouts and a two-run homer in Beth-Center’s 6-3 victory over Section 2-AA rival Washington.
Steady presence: This year has been filled with growth and change for the Bulldogs’ softball team. Gustovich’s mother, Trissa, took over as head coach and the team includes three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen.
While Beth-Center slowly gained confidence at the plate and in the field, Gustovich’s pitching dominance and hitting prowess lifted the Bulldogs into the playoff race. That ended this week when Beth-Center lost back-to-back games against Waynesburg and Bentworth.
“There has definitely been a drastic improvement,” Abby Gustovich said. “We had our ups and downs but it’s a lot better. We are a younger team, but I’m only a sophomore. I had to step up and make sure things worked out.”
The Bulldogs earned a marquee win over Chartiers-Houston last week with Gustovich’s big day highlighting Beth-Center’s victory. When the two teams last faced each other, fielding woes saw the Bulldogs lose a close decision to the Bucs, but with a potential playoff spot on the line, Gustovich led her team to victory.
“It was very rewarding to win that game,” Gustovich said. “I thought we cleaned it up a lot better than last time. The whole team wanted to win that game and it definitely showed.”
Summer fun: While most soon-to-be sophomores in high school were enjoying the summer vacation, Gustovich was spending five days a week at C-Side Sports Academy. The workouts varied from focusing on pitch location to getting more contact at the plate.
It began last year when Gustovich was a freshman and she saw inconsistencies in her game. Beth-Center finished three games out of a playoff spot in Section 2-AA and a 5-9 overall record last season. She took it upon herself to ensure a consistent sophomore season.
“She took that freshman year that was half and half and built on that,” Trissa Gustovich said. “She is really coming through as a leader even though she is a sophomore. I’m not really surprised with how well she’s done. She has worked since she was nine years old at being the best.”
Gustovich inherited a leadership role and the countless hours spent a C-Side paid off. She batted .548 with a 1.000 slugging percentage, 14 RBI and 17 runs during the regular season.
“I feel like I’m more mature this year compared to last year,” Abby Gustovich said. “I settled into my role as the starting pitcher. Over the summer and winter, I wanted to focus on making solid contact and not worrying about hitting home runs. I’m glad the work has started to pay off.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski