Softball captures two shutouts while dropping three games
It was a mixed weekend for the softball team as they traveled south to Charleston, South Carolina, for the Holy City Showdown Tournament. The team lost both games on Friday — each by a single run — against Liberty University and College of Charleston, but proceeded to shut out Loyola University Chicago and South Carolina State University on Saturday. Despite a tremendous pitching performance and lively offense in their third and fourth games, the team’s weekend would end with a third loss after a walk-off three-run homerun by Jacksonville University’s Ashley Simon in the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s game.
The first game of the tournament against Liberty started with a four-inning shutout by Morgan McCalmon ’16 who left unscathed after allowing six Flames on base. In the third inning, Lourlin Lara ’18 scored the first run despite a throw home on a groundout by Megan Averitt ’15 and put the Big Green on the board. After a scoreless fourth inning for both teams, however, it proved to be a disastrous top of the fifth for the Big Green as Ashley Sissel ’17 allowed three hits and a sacrifice bunt to open the inning, before being replaced by Kristen Rumley ’15. Sissel would be charged with all three runs and after another three hits and a passed ball, Rumley would be charged with two.
Down 5-1 by their fifth at-bat, the Big Green led a furious three-run rally, but was unable to capitalize on the following opportunities. After two hits and a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the sixth, the Big Green was unable to score with runners posted on second and third. This inability to solidify a run continued in the bottom of the seventh. With Kathy Dzienkowski ’16 on third and Rumley on second, Lara would strike out for the final out of the game and leave the Big Green behind by one. Liberty’s Chandler Ball pitched a complete game with four strikeouts on 10 hits, one walk and two unearned runs.
Rumley started for the Big Green in the following game against the hosting College of Charleston, but a costly error in the bottom of the fourth by Kelsey Miller ’16 after a force-out would lead in two unearned runs. Katie McEachern ’16 would hit a solo homerun in the top of the sixth to cut the deficit to one run, but missed opportunities would continue to hurt the Big Green. In the top of the seventh, Dzienkowski would get on first base on a one-out single, but would not make it back to the base in time after Karen Chaw ’17 lined out to third base. Rumley was charged with the loss after pitching six innings and striking out three on eight hits, no walks and no earned runs.
The Big Green would perform like an entirely different team on Saturday as they shut out both opposing teams, Loyola-Chicago and South Carolina State, and scored a total of 14 runs. Rumley dominated Loyola-Chicago with perfect second, third, fourth and fifth innings, pitching a seven-inning shutout on four hits, no walks and six strikeouts. Maddie Damore ’17 hit a homerun to lead off the second inning, which was followed by two doubles from Rumley and Claire Bird ’18. Tiffany Dyson ’18 plated Miller and Bird on a bases-loaded single and opened the Rambler’s floodgates as the Big Green would pick up their first win of the weekend in a decisive 5-0 win.
The second game of the day would prove to be even better as the women scored nine runs in the first three innings against South Carolina State. Dzienkowski and McEachern provided a deadly 1-2 punch for the Big Green, combining for seven RBIs. Dzienkowski went 3-3 at the plate with five RBIs, hitting a single in the first, a two-run homerun in the second and a three-run homerun in the third. McEachern was also a perfect 2-2 at the plate with two RBIs, walking in the first, hitting a single in the second and hitting a two-run homerun in the third.
“We were more aggressive on Saturday and we took big swings,” Dzienkowski said.
McCalmon and Breanna Ethridge ’18 would combine for an extraordinary two-hit shutout against the Lady Bulldogs, each allowing a single hit each, for a final score of 9-0. In two games, the Big Green pitchers allowed no runs in 12 innings of work and recorded nine strikeouts.
“Going into the second day, we met together as a team and talked about increasing our intensity and focusing on individual goals that are smaller as opposed to being outcome based and result oriented,” Rumley said. “Our coaches created a little poster board for us so that we would start focusing on quality at-bats, and we each came up with an individual goal for each at-bat.”
The team also did not commit any errors in the two games, a problematic issue on Friday and at the Texas Invitational the weekend before.
“We had more communication,” Dyson said. “We were all on the same page and had more focus on the routine plays.”
The final game of the weekend against Jacksonville would go into the eighth with the score tied 1-1 after Madison Smith ’18 hit her first collegiate homerun. With runners in the corner, Dzienkowski flied out to left field and scored pinch runner Brianna Lohmann ’16. Rumley would be one out shy of closing out the game in the bottom of the eighth, but walked a Jacksonville batter. With runners on first and second, Jacksonville’s Ashley Simon three-run walk-off homerun to close out the game.
The team will head to New York March 18-22 to play against Hofstra, St. John’s and Long Island Universities as the start of their spring break trip.