Softball Falls Just Short at Norfolk State Tournament, Losing in Finals

After an icy-cold week in Hamilton, the Raiders softball team was surely ecstatic to be headed to the warm, inviting atmosphere of Norfolk, Virginia. And they certainly played like it.

Colgate opened the proceedings at the Norfolk State Tournament against the host school on March 7 in exciting fashion. First-year starting pitcher Michelle Hollebeke was on the mound for Colgate, fresh off her first collegiate win the weekend prior. Hollebeke led the Raiders through the first six innings, holding Norfolk State scoreless, and allowing almost no offensive threats. On an ordinary day, this would be enough for the Raiders’ high-powered offense to lead a massive victory, but the Norfolk State pitcher was Hollebeke’s equal up until the sixth inning. Calla Yee led off the bottom of the 6th with a bunt single for Colgate, followed by first-year shortstop Jennifer Ortega’s single to left field. Consecutive walks by Stephanie Hartquist and Melissa Babb-Renta plated a run for Colgate, and Nicole Siedhof sealed the rally, and effectively the game, with a 2-run double to left to give Colgate a 3-0 lead after six. Hollebeke came out for the seventh and final inning and continued her spectacular pitching, sitting Norfolk State down easily–earning her first collegiate shutout and giving Colgate a 3-0 win.

Colgate’s offense truly came to life later in the day, as they faced Delaware State in their second game. Lacy Ver Steeg was on the hill for the Raiders, but her wonderful performance was overshadowed by the offense’s spectacular show. Though Colgate only scored in two innings, they managed to bring 10 runs across the plate, more than enough to back Ver Steeg’s solid outing. Tiana Tyeskey and Meg Mylan were the offensive stars of the day, with the two driving in a combined five runs out of Colgate’s seven total RBI. The big play of the game, and the one that cemented the victory for Colgate, was Mylan’s bases-loaded double in the top of the seventh. The final score of 10-2 was certainly indicative of the Raiders utter domination of the game.

In a rain-shortened third game of the tournament, Colgate took on the Bearcats of Binghamton University, an upstate New York rival, merely displaced a few hundred miles. The game started with a whimper, with neither team scoring in the first inning, but exploded in the second. Tyeskey rapped a two-run double, Ortega drew a bases-loaded walk and Hartquist wrapped a two-run single to give Colgate a 5-0 lead after two. A Bearcats run in the top of the third was countered by two Colgate runs in the bottom half, extending Colgate’s lead to 7-1. The game was put beyond all doubt, however, in the fourth, as Colgate obliterated Binghamton’s pitching, scoring seven runs, highlighted by Hartquist’s two-run single, and an RBI single by Amanda Eccleston. Clearly, Colgate took their foot off the gas in the top of the fifth, as Binghamton brought five runs across the plate in an attempt at what would have been an absolutely epic comeback, but there was no miracle on this day, as the Raiders walked off the diamond with a 14-6 win.

With three wins in the tournament, Colgate earned itself a berth in the tournament title game where they again took on the host school, Norfolk State. Also unsurprisingly, the game was lacking in offense, and mirrored the opener in a number of ways. Despite another solid outing by Hollebeke, the Raiders could not again defeat the hosts, falling 2-1. The title looked within Colgate’s grasp after three innings, as an RBI groundout by Ortega scored the first run of the game. In the fifth inning, however, Norfolk State played some solid small ball, with a barrage of singles that was enough to score two runs.

Colgate is in action over Spring Break in Kissimmee, Florida at the Rebel Spring Games, where they will take on a number of opponents, most notable among them Cornell.