Softball Struggles to Start the Season

Dan Glaser

Colgate softball’s Patriot League title defense got off to an inauspicious beginning, as the Raiders fell 9-2 to Stony Brook and 8-0 to North Carolina-Charlotte last Saturday in the 1st Pitch Classic. These games were supposed to be played the previous day, but were pushed back by rain. Saturday’s originally scheduled games against Kent State and South Carolina Upstate were canceled.

The Seawolves scored a couple of runs off sophomore pitcher Jesse McCarrick in the bottom of the first inning. Vicki Kavitski scored on an error, while Marissa Fleury’s single drove in Ashley Westphal. A half-inning later, junior second baseman Kortney Hannah homered to left in her first at-bat of the season to make the score 2-1. Stony Brook promptly crushed back-to-back solo shots off the bats of Jade Clare and Kendall Blumenthal in the bottom of the second. Down 6-1 in the fifth and needing some runs desperately, Colgate began a rally again when Hannah doubled to center and moved up on a wild pitch. Senior Whitney Scott struck out, but first-year third baseman Nicole Siedhof knocked in her first run as a Raider with a single to left. Unfortunately, that was Colgate’s last run of the day. Stony Brook scored three more times in the sixth, as Kavitski doubled in Katelyn O’Donnell and Molly Kestranek, and Westphal singled home Crista Cerrone. Alyssa Struzenberg went the distance, holding Colgate to five hits and two runs. She struck out six and walked three. McCarrick yielded nine runs on 12 hits and two walks.

UNCC has been playing for a few weeks already, and it showed in the second game as they won for the seventh time in ten games. Jaime West put the 49ers ahead quickly with a first inning double to center, scoring Serena Smith. Whitney Williams scored the first of her two runs on the day on a Sarah Malene walk in the second. Charlotte blew the game open with two outs in the bottom of the third, when Williams singled in Smith. A two-run double to center from Keri Palma scored Williams and Cee Brooks to make it 6-0. Single runs in the fourth and fifth ended the game. 49ers’ hurler Gina Allen threw a two-hitter, fanning four and walking just one batter. None of Colgate’s three base runners advanced past first. First-year Colgate pitcher Lacy Ver Steeg did not enjoy a great introduction to Division I softball, as Charlotte scored in each of its five trips up, the last run triggering a mercy rule. Ver Steeg was charged with seven earned runs on 12 hits, three walks and two errors. She did record her first two collegiate strikeouts however.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Ver Steeg said of her debut. “I never thought the adjustment would be that drastic. I’m not anywhere near where I would have liked to [be] at this point. I know that with some hard work I’ll definitely be more prepared and a lot more confident at the next tournament.”

Head Coach Vickie Sax agreed with Ver Steeg’s sentiments.

“They are young and have a lot of work to do,” Sax said. “The pitchers will improve with valuable game time and they need to get into a rhythm and get comfortable throwing in game situations.”

Hannah was upbeat about Colgate’s play.

“We were able to accomplish a lot,” she said. “These were our first games as a full team since May of 2007, and it’s been a while since we’ve all [been] together on the dirt. It is much different working together in the fieldhouse as opposed to areal softball field. We have been known to start off our games a little rough, but it makes us stronger as we go along with the season.”

The Raiders have this weekend off from play, allowing them valuable practice time.

“Our offense needs to get aggressive and not get behind in the count,” Head Coach Vickie Sax said.”The defensive personnel needs to gel with improved communication between the outfield and infield.”

“Whether we are performing well or not, there [are] always things we need to work on,” Hannah said. “Communication on the field is one of them, [as is] our pitch selection,” she added.

“The team is great when it comes to keeping heads up, and good attitudes, so I think we all still need to get the hang of playing on the dirt,” Ver Steeg said.

Colgate returns to the diamond on Saturday, March 8th with a doubleheader at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey.