College wins impressively in critical week

The softball team came into this week going strong, riding a four-game win streak with an overall record of 14-4.  On Tuesday, April 2, the Lions visited Richard Stockton College for a pair of afternoon games.

The first game proved to be a pitching duel, with six scoreless innings. In the top of the final inning, the Lions finally managed to manufacture a run. Junior infielder Kristen Lake drew a walk to start things off.

Casale sprints to third. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Lake advanced to second courtesy of a sacrifice out by junior utility player Nicole Brodbeck. Next up at the plate was freshman outfielder Christine Desiderio, who bunted for a single, thereby advancing Lake to third. After Desiderio stole second, senior outfielder Liz Huttner hit a sacrifice fly deep enough into the outfield to bring Lake home and earn the game’s lone RBI.

The Lions took the first game of the day 1-0. Freshman pitcher Ashtin Helmer pitched a one-hitter, and picked up her eighth win of the season.

“We play in one of the toughest Division III softball conferences in the nation and there are no easy games, so treating every opponent the same definitely drives us to a heightened performance each game,” Huttner said.

In the second game, Stockton took a 2-0 lead, driving in a run in both the second and third innings, but the Lions’ bats were warmed up after their first game, as they scored seven unanswered runs off of eight hits to claim their second victory of the day.

By sweeping Stockton in the doubleheader, the College extended their win streak to six games, topping their own five-game win streak that they had held earlier in the season.

On Thursday, the Lions travelled to Messiah College for their second doubleheader of the week. The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning when Huttner led off with a single. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior outfielder Michelle Casale. After stealing third, Huttner was brought home by senior infielder Kelly Hommen, who reached first on an error by Messiah’s shortstop.

In the top of the fifth, Huttner cleared the loaded bases with a double to left center field, bringing the score to 4-0. That would be the final score of the game, as Ashtin Helmer recorded another shutout and grabbed her ninth win of the season. This victory extended the Lions’ win streak to seven games, their longest of the season.

Messiah pulled ahead in the second game with a 5-0 lead by the end of the fourth inning. The College began to rally late, with Casale sending out a solo homer in the sixth and Lake doing the same in the top of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough, as Messiah pulled out a 6-2 victory, thus snapping the Lions’ win streak. Saturday offered another doubleheader for the Lions, as Kean University traveled to the College.

Seven innings weren’t enough to decide a winner in the first game. In the top of the eighth, the Cougars managed to put a run on the board, putting the pressure on the Lions to respond in the bottom of the inning. The College proved to be up to the challenge, as Huttner reached on an error by the pitcher, and brought junior infielder/outfielder Lindsey Williams home to tie the game. Casale then closed the game out with a triple that brought Huttner home. Helmer pitched all eight innings, struck out nine batters and picked up her 10th win of the season.

In Saturday’s second game, Hommen put two runs on the board with her first inning home run, driving in Casale. A Lake double in the third made it 4-1, and Kean put up only one more run in the seventh. The Lions took both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, giving the team its 18th and 19th wins of the season.

Things look good for the rest of the season, not only because of the noteworthy wins that the Lions have under their belt, but also because the senior leadership is wholeheartedly devoted to the team.

“I know how talented of a team we are and the potential we have, which drives me even more to give everything for the team,” Huttner said.