Softball Takes Two at FGCU Spring Break Tournament

The softball team opened its season in Fort Myers, FL in relatively promising fashion, picking up two wins in five games at the Florida Gulf Coast University Spring Break Tournament. The Raiders earned two victories over Bryant, while they were defeated by Florida Gulf Coast University, Dartmouth and St. Francis (PA).

The Raiders season opened on February 27 against Bryant. The game was promising from the start for Colgate, as the Raiders took a 1-0 lead after the first inning, following an RBI groundout by senior Ashley Rowe. Bryant responded with a run in the top of the second, tying the game for a short time, before Colgate exploded for four runs in the bottom of the third. First-year Stephanie Hartquist had a debut to remember, as her single in the inning drove in two runs. Following an RBI sacrifice bunt by sophomore catcher Nicole Siedhof, Hartquist scored on a wild pitch, giving Colgate a 5-1 lead. Bryant scored three runs in the top of the 5th to close the gap to 5-4. Siedhof drove in another run in the bottom of the inning to give Colgate what seemed like a comfortable lead heading into the 6th and 7th innings.

Bryant, however, was not to be put down yet, as a fantastic offensive effort in the top of the 7th gave them a 7-6 lead, seemingly condemning Colgate to defeat. First-year shortstop Jennifer Ortega managed to get on base with one out in the bottom of the 7th as the result of a fielder’s choice. After a failed pickoff attempt, which ended with Ortega at second base, Rowe singled to tie up the game and send it to extra innings.

After a scoreless 8th inning, international tie-breaking rules came into effect, which gives the team a runner at second base to start the inning.Colgate put senior centerfielder Calla Yee on base. Yee moved to third on a groundout by Rowe, and Hartquist had an unproductive at-bat, leaving Yee at third with two outs. Siedhof then stepped up to the plate. Her services were not needed, however, as Bryant pitcher Samantha Houseal flung a pitch to the backstop, allowing Yee to score from third, sealing victory for Colgate in their season-opener.

The next three games at the tournament were not nearly as exciting nor productive for the Raiders, as the host school handled the Raiders easily in their next game, winning 8-0. It should be noted, however, that Colgate was playing just its second game of the season, while FGCU was playing game number 18, meaning they were certainly in a better mid-season groove than Colgate.

Following the disheartening loss to FGCU, Colgate took on Ivy League opponents, Dartmouth, who look to be a force to be reckoned with this season, defeating Colgate 2-0, improving their record to 3-0. Though the score was certainly disappointing for Colgate, as it was its second consecutive game being shutout, there were some positives that the team could walk away with. First-years Ortega and Hartquist combined for four of Colgate’s 10 hits, and first-year pitcher Michelle Hollebeke was effective, allowing only one earned run while striking out three.

In the fourth game of the tournament, Colgate finally got its offense out of a rut, plating three runs against St. Francis (PA). Senior Tiana Tyeskey and juniors Jessica Sabo and Melissa Babb-Renta all drove in runs for Colgate, who were unfortunate to have lost by five runs in the affair. Colgate starting pitcher Lacy Ver Steeg was hit pretty hard, giving up eight runs, seven earned in just three innings of work. Her poor performance forced the hand of Head Coach Vickie Sax, who brought on Jesse McCarrick in relief. McCarrick’s spectacular performance in relief was a highlight for Colgate in the tournament. After her three innings of work in this game, she had thrown a total of five innings, allowing only one hit overall.

Colgate closed out the tournament with another game against Bryant. The highlight of the game was certainly Hollebeke’s first collegiate win, as she threw a complete game, allowing only four hits and two walks, while striking out five, leading the Raiders to another victory, by a 3-2 scoreline this time. Hartquist, Rowe and senior Meg Mylan all drove in runs for Colgate, with Rowe driving in a dramatic game-winning run. Following a game-tying RBI by Mylan in the 6th, and a scoreless top of the 7th by Bryant, the stage was set for a heart-stopping finale. The Raiders staged a two-out rally, with Ortega leading the charge with a double. Immediately following, Rowe stepped up to the plate, ripping a single to center field, bringing Ortega home for the game-winner, sending Colgate out of balmy Fort Myers back to frigid Hamilton as victors.

Colgate is in action at the Norfolk State tournament in Norfolk, Virginia this weekend, where the Raiders will take on Norfolk State, Delaware State and upstate New York rival Binghamton University.