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Pitt softball awaits curtain call Friday in Charleston, S.C. |

Pitt softball awaits curtain call Friday in Charleston, S.C.

Jerry DiPaola

The bar is set high for first-year Pitt softball coach Jodi Hermanek, whose team opens the season Friday with the first of five games at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C.

Hermanek replaces Holly Aprile, who left for the same job at Louisville after leading Pitt (33-18-1) to its first ACC Coastal Division championship and school records in conference victories (16) and series wins (seven of eight). Pitt was the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, reaching the title game before losing to eventual national champion Florida State, 5-4, on a walkoff home run.

A total of 15 players, eight of whom are seniors, return from that team. Senior Olivia Gray earned first-team All-ACC honors after hitting .311.

Picked to finish fourth in the ACC by the Preseason Coaches Poll, Pitt will play its first game at 6 p.m. Friday against Purdue, followed by games against the host team, College of Charleston, Central Michigan and two against Wichita State.

Overall, Pitt’s schedule includes nine NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including No. 6 Oregon, which advanced to the College World Series, and nine teams that are currently ranked or receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Softball Preseason Poll.

Hermanek, who previously coached for 14 years at Ohio and Southern Utah, is approaching her 400th career victory. She has a 397-376-1 record, including four NCAA Tournament appearances.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.