The College’s softball team kicked off the 2005 season at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla., going 5-5 through a grueling series of five double headers in a seven-day span.
The team suffered several tough losses and couldn’t seem to get on a roll as they alternated wins and losses throughout the week. The Lions did, however, post several impressive wins, including three shutouts, a testament to the strength of their pitching staff.
The team finished off the last game just as they had done all week, with a bounce-back victory following a tough loss. They shut out the Muskies of Mustingum College 3-0. The Muskies tied for fourth in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Preseason Top 25 poll.
Senior pitcher Jess Donohue picked up her third straight win as she went the distance, allowing five hits and striking out five. Leading the Lions’ offense were sophomore outfielder Kristin Boyer and sophomore infielder Erin Cusmano, who each picked up two hits, with Boyer connecting on a double and an RBI triple. Senior infielder Siobhan Scullin added two RBI going 1-for-2 from the plate.
Despite the quality pitching, the Lions were unable to string together victories as they sometimes struggled defensively with routine plays and offensively with the short game.
“Defense is what will separate us from the other teams,” head coach Sally Miller said. “We didn’t always do the smart thing defensively.” Miller also said the team needs to work on its short game in terms of bunting and moving runners over, saying that it was awful at times throughout the week.
In another impressive win, following a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Raiders of Mount Union College, the Lions returned that day to post a 5-0 shutout of the Cougars of College Misericordia.
Christina Lizzi had a productive game going 2-for-3 from the plate with a run and an RBI. Senior outfielder Kristen Zimmerman and junior catcher Kristin Meister each added a pair of hits while freshman designated hitter Stephanie Trstensky belted a two-run homer. Sophomore sensation Jess Kohut got her second win of the season with a complete game seven strikeout performance.
Earlier in the week, the Lions followed up a 4-2 loss to the undefeated Kohawks of Coe College with a 2-0 shutout of the Pioneers of Marietta College. Behind a dominant 10 strikeout performance by Donohue, the Lions managed to put together six hits for two runs to take the victory. Junior infielder Laura Prevete had an RBI double and also scored the Lions’ second run on a single by Cusmano.
The reliable pitching of the team was evident throughout most of the games. “As far as pitching goes, we’re going be a lot stronger this year, especially in double headers,” Donohue said. “I thought Kohut did a great job this week coming out really strong and shutting hitters down.”
This past Monday, Kohut was named New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Pitcher of the Week. Highlights of her performances were the shutout against College Misericordia and her outing against the Yellow Jackets of Waynesburg College, where she picked up the win allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out nine.
“I feel like I didn’t hold back at all and that helped me,” Kohut said. “Plus we have a strong defense behind us that I can count on when the ball is put in play.”
In the game against Waynesburg College, the Lions were led by freshman Christina Lizzi, who was named NJAC Rookie Player of the Week on Monday. Lizzi went 2-for-3 from the plate with a double and a triple and added an RBI and a run to help supply the offense.
On the second day of action, the Lions lost a close one, 2-1, to the Saints of Maryville University. The Lions wasted another solid pitching performance by Kohut, who suffered her first loss giving up two runs on four hits in seven innings of work.
Following this disappointing loss the Lions roared back in the second game of the day with a 15-2 stomping of the Tomcats of Thiel College. Ten Lions had at least one hit and four connected on extra base hits to total 12 on the day. Prevete had a solid game collecting four RBIs with a double and a triple. Donohue got the win surrendering only three hits while striking out three.
While the pitching remained strong all week, the hitting was not always as consistent. “We weren’t hitting with runners in scoring position; we must have left about 10 runners on base in the last two games,” Zimmerman said. “We just couldn’t come through in the clutch.”
Despite splitting wins and losses for the trip, the players remain confident that the best is yet to come from this team. “I didn’t come away from this week knowing that we’re .500,” Zimmerman said. “We came away knowing that we’re a good team and it will show up in victories later on.”
Other players agreed. “We were never outplayed,” Donohue said. “I don’t think our record reflects where we are at right now. We just weren’t getting hits in key situations.”
The Lions will return to action against York, Methodist and Maryville Colleges for a triple-header on Friday in Salem, Va.