Colgate’s softball team was in Kissimmee, Florida last week, but they weren’t focused on catching rays. Instead, they competed in the Rebel Spring Games, where the Raiders went 3-5 against other East Coast schools.
Sophomore Jesse McCarrick (2-3) headlined the Raiders’ week by carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning of their finale before settling for a two-hit, 1-0 victory over Siena, her second career shutout. Both McCarrick and Siena’s Jamie Piela were dominant through five innings. McCarrick walked two and struck out two, while another pair of baserunners reached on errors. Piela surrendered one run on three hits and two walks, striking out six.
Colgate broke through in their half of the sixth. Piela hit junior second baseman Kortney Hannah to lead off. Pinchrunner Calla Yee advanced to second on first-year Nicole Siedhof’s one-out single. With two outs, sophomore Amanda Eccleston delivered what proved to be the game-winning RBI single to centerfield.
Olivia Calcagnini spoiled McCarrick’s no-hit bid with a lead-off single to left in Siena’s last at-bat. With one out, Lauren Weingart singled to right. Pinch runner Sara Gallacchi, who had reached second on a sacrifice bunt, seemed bound to score, but Brittany Hanrahan made a perfect throw home and Siedhof tagged Gallacchi out. McCarrick then induced Stacey Landini to ground weakly back to the mound for the final out.
“I have to give credit to the defense, which I tend to rely on a lot with my style of pitching,” McCarrick said of her performance, which earned her the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week award. “I am able to focus on the individual batters because I know that the defense is behind me.”
Earlier that Friday, Columbia defeated Colgate 6-3. Three-run outbursts in the second and third innings proved enough for the Lions against first year Lacy Ver Steeg. The first scoring run began when Leanne Penna doubled to right. With one out, Ver Steeg hit Karen Tulig. Penna was erased on a fielder’s choice, but Chantee Dempsey singled to left, scoring Tulig. A Kelli Leong single and a Colgate fielding error scored the other two runs. The Raiders answered with a run in the bottom of the second, as junior Tiana Tyeskey singled home classmate Vicky Ortengren with two outs. Columbia promptly broke open the game with another trio of runs, two of them scoring on Jackie Ecker’s one-out double to right-center. Senior Whitney Scott doubled home Yee and Brandy Godfrey with two outs in the seventh, but the Raiders drew no closer.
Ver Steeg was charged with six runs (five earned) on eight hits, five walks and two Raider errors. She also fanned three. Columbia’s Maggie Johnson gave up three runs on 10 hits and three walks, striking out four.
Colgate’s other two victories came last Monday. The Raiders defeated Florida A&M 6-2, as Ver Steeg tossed a three-hitter. All six Colgate runs came in the bottom of the first, as Hannah scored when the Rattlers’ Melissa Oliphant hit Scott with a pitch. Eccleston singled home Yee, and two runs scored on an error. Melissa Babb-Renta and Tyeskey then delivered RBI singles to close out the rally. Florida A&M scored twice in the sixth, but Ver Steeg stranded eight baserunners to preserve her first collegiate victory.
Against Iona, Colgate won 7-6 in its final at-bat with a barrage of singles. The Raiders took an early 2-0 lead on third inning RBI’s from Ortengren and junior Ashley Rowe, but Iona got the runs back in its half of the inning. After Colgate retook the lead in the fourth, the Gaels scored four times in the fifth. Down 6-3 in the seventh, senior LaPorscha Albert ignited the rally with a single to left. Hanrahan singled with one out and Rowe drove home Albert with another single. A passed ball moved each runner up and Siedhof tied the game with a two-run single to center. Sophomore Jessica Sabo then delivered the game-winning single to right-center.
McCarrick, who pitched a complete game, preserved the victory with a clean bottom of the seventh. She yielded six runs (two earned) on 11 hits, striking out three and walking two.
A day later, Colgate lost a pair of games to Rider and Hartford. Against the Broncos of Rider, Hannah contributed to an early Raider run by driving in Jessi Bentovoja in the third. However, the Broncos scored four in the fourth and one more in the fifth off Rowe and Ver Steeg to pull away, eventually winning 7-2. In the nightcap, Hartford scored five runs off McCarrick in the second, and three more against Rowe in the next frame. The Raiders managed only five hits and lost 12-3.
On Wednesday, the Raiders dropped a 5-4 heartbreaker against Dayton. Siedhof got the Raiders off to a perfect start against the Flyers. After Yee singled to lead off the game, Siedhof crushed a one-out homer to left, the first of her Raider career. The Flyers scored a run each in the first and third to tie and grabbed another one in the fifth. Yee’s RBI ground out in the sixth tied the game at three as junior Meg Mylan, who went three-for-four in the game, came home. Dayton’s half of the inning saw Molly Meyer and Mollie Schrank drive in runs to reclaim the lead. Siedhof tried to begin another Colgate rally in the seventh with a single. After moving up on a wild pitch, she scored when Eccleston singled to right-center. Pinchrunner Brandy Godfrey moved to second on Hannah’s sacrifice bunt. Albert singled to put the go-ahead run on base. Mylan flied out to center, but both runners moved into scoring position. Dayton intentionally walked first-year Maddy Shufelt to set up a force at each base. Their strategy paid off as Sabo grounded into a game-ending fielder’s choice.
Earlier in the day, Akron’s Julie Boyes’ two-run homer in the first off Ver Steeg to give the Zips the lead for good en route to a 4-1 victory.
McCarrick was optimistic about the Raiders’ week in Northern Florida.
“Getting to play outside, on the dirt, is always beneficial for our team,” she said. “It allows us to figure out each other’s tendencies and learn how to work together on the field, rather than in the Fieldhouse. I definitely think that we are ready for Patriot League play.”
Head Coach Vickie Sax also took several positives from the Rebel Games.
“All 20 players got experience in many diverse situations.” she said. “Our biggest improvement was confidence, from our communication on the field, [to making] educated adjustments in the batters box, pitchers hitting their spots,” she added.
Colgate’s doubleheaders against Holy Cross begin at noon on both Saturday and Sunday. These will also serve as the Raiders’ home opener at Eaton Street Field.
“We need to come out hungry, both with the sticks as well as the gloves,” Sax said.