Softball Stifles Army’s Hamilton Invasion

Bill Stoklosa

The softball team began a crucial four-game set against Army with a doubleheader on Saturday. It was a back-and-forth game that ultimately ended in a narrow 4-3 victory for Army. The Raiders got off to a roaring start when senior third baseman Whitney Scott hammered the first pitch she saw from Army pitcher Veronica Barth like it was a Joe Borowski fastball. The ball left the park and Colgate had a 1-0 lead. Army answered back in the third with a long ball of their own as Melissa Garza hit a two-run jack to put the Black Knights up 2-1. Colgate battled back however and tied the game in the bottom of the inning when junior second baseman Kortney Hannah scored on an RBI groundout. The fourth inning passed with neither team gaining an advantage, but in the fifth the momentum swung back in Colgate’s favor. Sophomore Jessica Sabo stepped in as a pinch hitter, and with ice water running through her veins, hammered the ball past the wall to stake Colgate to a 3-2 advantage. It was her first career pinch-hit homer.

Colgate however, could not hold the lead. In the final inning, Army’s Mary Ann Kearney tied the game up at three with an RBI single. Speedy Nicole Talarczyk was then sent in to pinch-run for Kearney. It looked like Colgate might escape the inning with just one run allowed when sophomore pitcher Jesse McCarrick recorded the second out of the inning via a strikeout. However, after the strikeout, Talarczyk came up with a big steal to move into scoring position. Then Laura Baranek hit a ball that just fell into the gap to score Talarczyk and give Army a 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the inning Veronica Barth retired the Raiders in order for the complete game victory. McCarrick also went the distance for Colgate, but was saddled with the loss.

The nightcap went much better for the Raiders. Colgate jumped out to an early lead and held on behind a stellar pitching performance by first-year Lacy Ver Steeg to secure a 9-0 victory. Colgate jumped out to a five-run lead of Veronica Bath, who started again after her win in the first game. Fatigue was certainly a factor, as Colgate got 5 hits to score the five runs, the biggest of which was a Kortney Hannah single that knocked in two. In the third Colgate had another huge inning, putting up four more to take a 9-0 lead. The key to the explosion was two big doubles. Junior catcher Erin Gomez knocked in two with a double and was in turn brought home when senior shortstop LaPorscha Albert ripped a double of her own. Albert then came home on a single by junior Brandy Godfrey.

“We got down and tattooed the ball,” Head Coach Vicky Sax said. “Our offense was patient, stayed back, and drove the ball withauthority.”

There would be no more scoring for either team for the remainder of the game, and the mercy rule was invoked to end the game after five innings. Hitting was not the whole story however, as Colgate got a phenomenal pitching performance, which made fans wonder if superstar Kelsey Nordstrom had returned to Hamilton. It was not Nordstrom however, but Ver Steeg who had a performance worthy of Fausto Carmona. Ver Steeg allowed just two hits and went the distance to secure her first career shutout. She had three strikeouts, and even more impressively amassed zero walks.

“Lacy got down to businessand just went after the prize,” Head Coach Sax said.”Her control was superb. She kept her game plan simple. She threw a lot of great pitches which intimidated Army.She got ahead on batters and walked none.That’s putting your team in a position to compete.”

She threw a lot of great pitches which intimidated Army.She got ahead on batters and walked none.That’s putting your team in a position to compete.”

Ver Steeg was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week for her efforts on Saturday. The two teams were slated to square off for another doubleheader on Sunday, but the contests were pushed back to Wednesday because of the weather conditions.

The extra rest must have helped the Raiders offense, because they absolutely knocked the stuffing out of the ball during the two game set, winning 6-1 and 16-1. Veronica Barth once again got roughed up early in game one, as Colgate scored four in the first. With a runner on, junior Tiana Tyeskey ripped a pitch out of the yard to put Colgate up two. Then star slugger Whitney Scott sent another pitch yard to extend the lead to three. Junior Meg Mylan finished off the scoring in the inning when her RBI double scored Sabo. There was no further scoring until the fifth when Scott stepped up to the plate again and shot the ball like a laser out of the park. This time there was a runner on base and the blast made the score 6-0, Colgate. Army got a run in the sixth, but that was all they could muster off Colgate starter Jesse McCarrick, who went the distance to pick up the 6-1 victory.

As good as their performance in game one was, Colgate played even better in game two. The game was scoreless going into the second when, and you might be noticing a trend here, Colgate exploded to take a commanding lead. The Colgate offense erupted with all the force of Mt. Saint Helen’s, scoring nine runs in the inning. Five of the runs came courtesy of the long ball. Meg Mylan hit a three-run shot, but can you guess who also hit a homerun in the inning? If you guessed sensational slugger Whitney Scott, you would be correct. She hit a two-run shot in the inning. Colgate continued the onslaught in the third as sophomore Amanda Eccleston hit a two-run double, and Scott picked up another RBI on a single to give Colgate a 12-0 advantage. Colgate scored four more runs in the fourth to go up 16-0. The key hit in the inning was another Eccleston double, which plated two. Army pushed one across the plate in the fifth, but it was not enough to avoid the 16-1 five inning mercy rule victory.

Scott’s performance against Army on Wednesday cannot be described as anything less than Travis Hafner-like. She had three homers, seven RBI and four runs scored on 5-7 hitting. In the whole four-game set, she had four homeruns. Scott’s eight career homeruns place her sixth on Colgate’s all-time list. Lacy Ver Steeg, who earned the victory, was strong again, allowing just one run and striking out three.

Colgate stands at 4-4 in the Patriot League (7-12 overall) after the three big wins. Colgate travels to Lafayette this weekend for a four-game set with doubleheaders starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday. If Scott keeps ripping the cover off the ball and Ver Steeg keeps throwing heat, the Leopards better watch out for the Raiders this weekend.