Softball Splits with Army, Clinches PL Tournament Berth

Mike Leclair

At the beginning of the season, the Colgate softball team had a simple goal: qualify for the Patriot League tournament. With two wins over Army last weekend at West Point, they achieved this goal with four league games left to spare.

The four-game series with the Black Knights got off to a poor start for Colgate, with Army securing a 2-1 win, snapping Colgate’s program-record 10-game winning streak. Junior pitcher Jesse McCarrick continued her stellar pitching, giving up just two earned runs in six innings of work, but she was bested by the Army pitching staff. The Raiders offense was stifled, with first-year shortstop Jennifer Ortega driving in Colgate’s only run on an RBI single in the fifth inning. Army took the lead on a two-run home run in the first inning, and that was all they needed to walk away with a victory.

The second game of the afternoon was a much better affair for the Raiders, and started off in tremendous fashion, with senior first baseman Ashley Rowe ripping an RBI double down the left field line to give Colgate an early 1-0 advantage. After first-year starting pitcher Michelle Hollebeke sat Army down in order in the top of the second, Colgate capitalized on some dreadful fielding from the Black Knights, scoring four runs in the bottom of the second. Three Colgate batters reached base on Army errors, and the inning’s only hit came from senior second baseman Tiana Tyeskey, who smacked an RBI triple with two outs. Colgate would add runs in the fourth and fifth innings on a sacrifice fly from Ortega and an RBI single by junior designated hitter Amanda Eccleston, to claim a 7-0 lead. The Raiders took their foot off the pedal a little bit, it would seem, as Army then scored a run in the bottom of the fifth, and three in the bottom of the seventh. The comeback was not to be in this game, as Hollebeke forced a pop-up to second base to end the game, and give Colgate the win, 7-4.

On Sunday, Colgate started off with another offensive boom, scoring two runs in the top of the first, with Eccleston and Tyeskey driving in a run apiece. Army’s offense, however, was equal to the task, plating three in the bottom of the first to take a 3-2 lead. Colgate responded with a run in the top of the second, on an RBI double by junior leftfielder Melissa Babb-Renta, to tie the game at 3. Colgate took a short-lived lead in the top of the fifth on a solo homerun from Ashley Rowe, but were then smacked around in the bottom half of the inning, allowing four runs, falling behind 7-4. Eccleston picked up her second RBI of the game in the top of the seventh, but the rally fell short, as Colgate dropped the game 7-5.

Not happy about losing a lead in the first game of the day, Colgate made sure the nightcap was a no-doubter. Before Hollebeke even had to step on the mound, her offense had staked her to an 8-0 lead. Colgate opened the inning with two runners reaching on Army errors, and both were driven home by a Tyeskey 2-run double. Eccleston, Babb-Renta, Meg Mylan, Brittany Hanrahan, and Calla Yee all contributed RBIs to the offensive showcase in the first. After the first inning, you’d think that Colgate might let up a little, but Head Coach Vickie Sax got her players motivated for the second, as Colgate dropped another four runs on Army, highlighted by senior Erin Gomez’s fifth home run of the year, a 3-run shot. Army responded meekly with a run in both the second and third innings, but as soon as the Raiders could put the game away via the mercy rule, they did. Colgate held on to their ten-run lead for the fourth, and gave themselves a run of breathing room in the fifth, on an RBI single by Tyeskey. Hollebeke retired the Black Knights in the bottom of the fifth, only allowing one base-runner, allowing Colgate to go home early, proud owners of a 13-2, mercy-rule victory.

Going into the final weekend of league play, Colgate (23-12, 11-5 PL) sits two games behind Lehigh (27-16-1, 13-3 PL) in the Patriot League. Colgate takes on league cellar-dwellers Lafayette, while Lehigh faces off against Holy Cross. If Colgate can sweep Lafayette, and if Holy Cross can take three of four from Lehigh, the Raiders would host the Patriot League tournament. The situation, however, is not in Colgate’s hands, so all the team can do is win against Lafayette, and hope for the best from Holy Cross.