The College’s softball team took home the Gold Division Championship at the Seventh Annual East Coast Fastpitch Classic in Virginia this weekend.
The Lions went 4-1 for the tournament, including an exciting 3-2 win over the second-ranked Sea Gulls of Salisbury University. The Lions can now brag of a 9-6 record for the season.
Sparked by freshman outfielder Christina Lizzi, the College defeated Salisbury in dramatic fashion as Lizzi scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly to center field by senior outfielder Kristen Zimmerman. Lizzi also drove a two-run home run over the right center fence earlier in the game to give the Lions a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
The Sea Gulls battled back to tie the game at two in the sixth to force extra innings. After managing to keep the Sea Gulls off the scoreboard in the top of the eighth, the Lions started off the bottom of the inning with Lizzi at second because of the international tiebreaker rule (ITB). She then advanced to third on a sacrifice hit by sophomore outfielder Kristin Boyer before coming home on Zimmerman’s game-winning RBI.
Under the ITB, each team starts their turn at bat with a runner on second base in order to increase the chances of scoring the deciding run.
“As a freshman, I’m just happy to get playing time, especially on such a talented team,” Lizzi said.
Lizzi also said that she was surprised to see her home run leave the park. “I wasn’t even thinking that it was going over the fence, but when it did, it was such a great feeling to put our team ahead.”
Sophomore pitcher Jess Kohut earned the win, throwing a complete game with four strikeouts allowing two runs on nine hits. Lizzi finished the game going 1-for-2 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs. The Sea Gulls were tied for second in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division III Preseason Top 25 poll.
Kohut was able to limit the Sea Gulls’ offense by pitching well when it mattered.
“They got a lot of hits off me, but they were scattered throughout the game,” Kohut said. “They had the bases loaded in the eighth, but we were able to get out of it with a double play.”
Earlier on Saturday, the Lions picked up a 1-0 win over the Eagles of Bridgewater College, which advanced them to the championship game. Senior pitcher Jess Donohue threw a complete game three-hit shutout as she rolled to her fifth straight victory. Sophomore infielder Erin Cusmano led the Lions going 2-for-2 with a triple, while sophomore outfielder Kristin Boyer provided the only needed RBI.
The Lions never lost focus all weekend, as they showed their resolve bouncing back to win gold on Saturday after suffering a disappointing 4-3 decision to the Scots of Maryville College in their final game on the preceding day. Maryville notched the game-winning run with two outs in the top of the seventh as freshman Jamie Smith scored on a Lions error.
Junior infielder Kelly Quigley went 3-for-4 with a run while senior infielder Cristina Venetucci added two doubles going 2-for-3 in the losing effort. Sophomore pitcher Julianne Lajiness took her second loss on the season despite pitching well in 4-2/3 innings of relief, allowing two runs on four hits.
Regardless of the loss, the Lions proved to be the best team in the field. “We out hit every opponent we faced,” head coach Sally Miller said. “We were able to make adjustments right away offensively, such as moving back in box when facing a hard thrower.”
On the previous day of action, the Lions handily defeated the Monarchs of Methodist College by posting a 10-0 shutout. The team cranked out 10 runs on 12 hits including seven in the bottom of the second inning. The Monarchs were ranked 20th in the NFHCA Division III Preseason poll.
Sophomore designated hitter Jess Kohut got the win with four solid innings, giving up just two hits and fanning three. Lizzi had three RBIs going 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles. Sophomore catcher Sandy Russo and senior infielder Siobhan Scullin each had two hits.
Also on Friday, the Lions defeated the Spartans of York College 5-2, capitalizing on two Spartan errors to score five runs in the top of the second inning.
Following another strong outing by senior pitcher Jess Donohue, Lajiness came in relief with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning. She kept the Spartans at bay as she struck out the next batter and the last batter reached on a fielder’s choice as the runner at second was tagged out at third. She went on to earn the save in 1-2/3 innings of relief with three strikeouts. Four Lions each had a hit, including Quigley who added two RBIs.
The softball team will hope that its momentum carries over to Friday, when it faces the University of Rochester and Swarthmore College at home.