Softball Still Controls Destiny In Last Week of PL Play

Despite being swept in a four-game set by league leader Lehigh last week, the Raider softball team still controls its own fate heading into the final weekend of play. While those four wins assure the Mountain Hawks of hosting the Patriot League Tournament for the fifth consecutive year, the Raiders can still finish as high as second or as low as sixth, depending on how they fare this weekend against Holy Cross.

In last weekend’s first game, Lisa Sweeney led the way for Lehigh with a complete-game three hitter, in which she also struck out six and did not walk a batter.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning and adding another run in the second, Lehigh blew the game open in the fifth. With two outs, Kate Marvel tripled, followed by a Heather Hamasaki single to make the score 3-0. After another single and a three-run homer, Lehigh suddenly had a seven-run edge. The Mountain Hawks added another run in the sixth inning, clinching the game on the eight-run mercy rule.

In the nightcap, Colgate got off to a strong start in the first inning. First-year Calla Yee walked to lead off the game, and moved to second on a bunt from senior Kim Olmstead. Yee then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when she beat a throw from first base on sophomore LaPorscha Albert’s groundball. Albert later scored on an RBI single from senior outfielder Erin Hanna.

But Lehigh got to Raiders senior pitcher Kate Howard quickly. In the second inning, Julie Sterrett tripled and then scored on a sacrifice fly, and Mary Wieder homered to tie the game up one inning later.

Lehigh scored twice more in the game, but Mountain Hawks pitcher Kate Arico did not allow a single runner to reach base over the last five innings and Lehigh held on for a 4-2 win. Howard allowed four runs on nine hits over the first four innings of the game. Junior Kelsey Nordstrom relieved her and pitched two scoreless innings. Nordstrom is now second in the Patriot League in opponents’ batting average against at .218.

On Monday, Lehigh started off with a 3-0 win. For the second consecutive day, Sweeney threw a complete-game shutout, scattering five hits and striking out nine.

In the final game of the series, Howard and Arico squared off in a pitcher’s duel. Howard scattered five hits while striking out five and walking three. Arico gave up just two hits, both to sophomore Whitney Scott, who batted .364 in the four games. Arico struck out nine and walked one, while only allowing one Raider to reach second base.

Not surprisingly, the game required extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Howard hit Lauren Haney with a pitch, and pinch runner Ali Linsk advanced to second on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, Taryn Hanley’s squeeze bunt allowed Linsk to score the game-winning run.

Despite the team’s current seven-game losing streak, the Raiders feel optimistic about their chances of making the Patriot League Tournament for a 16th consecutive year – Colgate is the only Patriot League team to never miss the league tournament. Colgate leads the all-time series with Holy Cross, 40-18, and has won its last five meetings with the Crusaders. The top-four teams in the league standings after the weekend’s play will qualify for the Patriot League tournament.

“We all still believe we’re going to qualify,” sophomore catcher Jessi Bentovoja said. “If we get into the right mindset, knowing that we have to get some wins this weekend or else our season’s over, I think we’ll get the job done.”

Scott expressed the same beliefs.

“We need to improve our hitting, but right now it’s just been in our heads to do a little too much at the plate since the team is not scoring many runs,” she said. “But to be fair, we did play a great team in Lehigh last weekend. I’m sure things will be different this weekend.”

Prior to Sunday afternoon’s doubleheader, the Raiders will honor Howard, Hanna and Olmstead, who will be playing in their final two home games for Colgate.