Armstrong can’t power Lions at Salisbury Invitational

The softball team’s road woes continued over the weekend, as the Lions returned from their second out-of-state trip this season with a 7-9 record. After only managing to win four out of 10 on a Spring Break trip to Clermont, Fla., the Lions dropped three out of four at the Salisbury Invitational in Maryland over the weekend.

The Lions’ struggles started on March 20, when the Capital University Crusaders stopped junior Ashley Minervini’s scoreless streak at 23.1 innings en route to a 3-2 victory. After recording two easy outs to start the game, Minervini surrendered back-to-back singles to put runners in scoring position as the Crusaders’ sophomore catcher Jen Reimer stepped into the batter’s box. Reimer lifted a pitch out of the park, putting the Crusaders up 3-0 in the top of the first.

Lions’ senior Kelly Armstrong returned fire in the bottom of the second, driving in two with a home run of her own, but neither team would score again on the afternoon.

Later in the day it was the Lions who struck first, knocking in three runs in the first inning before riding a stellar performance by rookie pitcher Lauren Fitzsimmons to a 5-1 win over SUNY-Geneseo. Armstrong continued her strong performance from the day before, drawing first blood with a sacrifice bunt that scored Colleen Cawley. Freshman Katelyn Congilose singled up the third base line later in the inning, producing a two-run RBI that put the Lions ahead 3-0.

Fitzsimmons improved to 3-1 over the year, scattering six hits and one run as she recorded nine strikeouts for the complete game victory. Armstrong finished off her monster day with a two-run homer, providing a little extra insurance for the rookie’s solid outing.

On the second day of the tournament, offensive futility proved to be the Lions’ downfall as they dropped a pair of games, first falling 4-1 to Plattsburgh State before suffering a loss against the tournament host Salisbury Sea Gulls 6-2.

The College found itself locked in a pitching duel with Plattsburg, as Fitzsimmons and Bri Allen both tossed six innings of shutout ball before Armstrong scored the go-ahead run on an error in the top of the seventh. But the Cardinals’ junior Amy Woo stole home in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.

With the Lions unable to produce any offense in the extra session, Woo proved to be hero again, finally breaking through with a two-run homerun against an exhausted Fitzsimmons, who struck out 13 and only coughed up one walk in eight innings of work, as the Cardinals held on for a 4-1 win.

Before the grueling road trip, the Lions notched two wins in their home opener, a double-header against Gwynedd-Mercy College. Minervini combined with Alex Sietsma for her third five-inning no-hitter of the year, as the Lion bats lit up their unwelcome visitors, snagging an 11-0 win.

The home team raced out to a 4-0 lead after two innings, scoring seven times over their first nine outs. Ellen Seavers scored on a steal attempt in the first and added a third-inning RBI, Congilose earned an RBI single, as several Lions padded their stat lines with multi-hit and multi-RBI days.

The night contest was much closer, as Fitzsimmons found herself scratching out another hard fought win against Gwynedd Mercy sophomore Susan Bond. Surrendering only three hits and notching eight strikeouts, Fitszimmons outlasted her sophomore counterpart, who allowed Seavers to earn the game’s only score on a passed ball. The Lions escaped up 1-0, which pulled them to .500 before the Maryland trip.

The Lions, who now stand at 7-9 on the year, return home to face Muhlenberg today at 3 p.m.

James Queally can be reached at queally2@tcnj.edu.