Softball Takes Five of Eight Games Over Break

Michael LeClair

While the rest of us were relaxing on the beach, the Colgate women’s softball team was hard at work in Kissimmee, Florida, at the Rebel Spring Games, playing an astonishing eight games in five days. The Raiders were successful at the tournament, going 5-3 over the eight games. Colgate racked up wins over Manhattan, FDU-Teaneck, Hartford, Columbia and Iona, while falling to Rider, Cornell and St. Peter’s.

Colgate opened the tournament against Manhattan College on March 15. An impressive, complete performance from the Raiders led to a victory over the Jaspers, 4-1. Star first-year pitcher Michelle Hollebeke tossed a complete game for Colgate, giving up only three hits and one earned run. Her stellar performance on the mound was complemented by the offensive production of senior second baseman Tiana Tyeskey, who smacked a two-run home run to give the Raiders all the offense they would need. The Manhattan win was followed by a disappointing 9-4 loss to Rider. Despite the loss, Tyeskey’s positive offensive play continued, as she knocked in another two runs for the Raiders.

The second day of the Rebel Spring Games was a great one for Colgate.. In the early morning opener, on the back of a powerful offensive showing, the Raiders beat Fairleigh Dickinson 8-5. Colgate’s offense was well-distributed, with no outstanding offensive performance from any individual. The offense was in top-form for four of the games’ seven innings though, as the Raiders plated two runs each in the first, second, fifth and seventh innings. Hollebeke earned herself another victory, throwing a complete game in the affair, striking out five.

Colgate’s afternoon game against Hartford was an intense matchup, a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Junior pitcher Jesse McCarrick was superb on the mound, tossing a complete-game six-hitter, allowing no earned runs and striking out three. The performance earned McCarrick her third win of the season, making her an undefeated 3-0. The game was scoreless through the first five innings, with McCarrick and Hartford starter Brittney Stratton matching each other, inning after inning. Hartford broke through first, scoring an unearned run in the top of the sixth, with the runner having reached on McCarrick’s throwing error. Great small ball by Colgate in the bottom half of the inning got them back on level terms with Hartford, with first-year shortstop Jennifer Ortega once again proving to be the catalyst for the offense. Her lead-off single, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Calla Yee, got Ortega to second. The speedy shortstop then stole third, coming home on an RBI double by Tyeskey, tying the ballgame at 1. After Ashley Rowe reached first on a fielding error by Hartford’s Jackie Simonetty, moving Tyeskey to third, Nicole Siedhof’s sacrifice bunt brought the second run of the inning home, giving Colgate a 2-1 lead. McCarrick quickly sat down Hartford in the top half of the seventh, sealing the victory for Colgate, making them a perfect 2-0 on the day.

The third day of games was a mixed bag for Colgate as they took on two Ivy League opponents, Columbia and Cornell. The day started off as a continuation of Colgate’s previous play, with the team coming together to produce a thrilling 3-2 victory over Columbia. Hollebeke was again on the hill for Colgate, and provided another solid outing, tossing a complete game, allowing five hits, striking out three, and earned the win, moving her record to 5-2 on the season. Columbia got on the board first, scoring in the opening inning, though Colgate matched them in the bottom half of the first as Rowe smacked an RBI double to center field. A scoreless second was followed by a Columbia run in the top half of the third, putting Colgate down 2-1. However, Colgate fought back to tie the game at 2, with Tyeskey, the offensive juggernaut, driving home another run with an RBI single. The sixth inning was scoreless, as was the top of the seventh, setting up Colgate for a potentially dramatic victory. A lead-off single by junior pinch-hitter Amanda Eccleston was enough of a positive start to get the winning vibes flowing in the Colgate dugout. A sacrifice bunt by junior Kim Spinks moved the runner to second, bringing Ortega up to the plate with a runner in scoring position. Ortega smacked a high pitch to right-center field, dropping in past the right fielder, allowing a run to score and giving Colgate a dramatic, walk-off 3-2 win.

The afternoon game was not nearly as pleasant, with Colgate falling 9-5 to Cornell, with Nicole Siedhof being the bright spot of the offense, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Cornell improved their record to 13-5 with the victory.

Still reeling from the loss to Cornell, Colgate opened the final day of the Rebel Games with a 4-1 loss to St. Peter’s. Rowe drove in the lone run for the Raiders, while Hollebeke picked up the loss in relief of starter Lacy Ver Steeg.

The Raiders, however, left Florida triumphant, finishing with a dominating 7-1 win over Iona. Jesse McCarrick was stellar on the mound once again, throwing a complete-game, allowing no earned runs. The game was never in doubt, with Colgate taking a 4-1 lead after two innings. Rowe and Ortega were the offensive stars, with Rowe going 4-for-4 with an RBI, and Ortega going 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.

The Raiders open their Patriot League schedule this weekend at home against defending Patriot League champion Lehigh, having gone 10-7 in out-of-conference play, a significant step up from their 3-10 out-of-conference record last season. Colgate and Lehigh will play doubleheaders at the Eaton Street Complex at noon on Saturday and Sunday.