Softball Continues Hot Streak; Goes 3-1 at Delaware State

Softball Continues Hot Streak; Goes 3-1 at Delaware State

Although the game against Morgan State on March 26 was postponed due to unfavorable weather, the Colgate softball team continued to bulldoze its way through the start of the season, going 3-1 at the Sean Savage Epilepsy Awareness Tournament, hosted by Delaware State. The team entered the tournament ranked first in the Patriot League in every offensive statistic (save batting average where they are second). Sophomore pitcher Michelle Hollebeke entered the tournament leading the Patriot League in six categories: earned run average (0.65), appearances (10), innings (54.0), opponents’ batting average (.180), wins (8) and games started (8).

Senior captain Jesse McCarrick paired up with junior Lacy Ver Steeg to throw a perfect game against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday in the team’s first game of the tournament. Colgate won the game 9-0, beginning the first inning with back-to-back singles by senior Melissa Babb-Renta and first-year Alana Dyson. A single by sophomore captain Jennifer Ortega and an error by Maryland-Eastern pushed Colgate’s first two runs through.

In the second inning, hits from first-years Emmie Dolfi, Courtney O’Connell and Natalie Siedhof compounded with a double by Ortega and another Maryland-Eastern error to produce five more runs. Colgate rounded out its nine run explosion in the fourth with back-to-back doubles by Ortega and sophomore Stephanie Hartquist. Also in the fourth, Ver Steeg took over on the mound and closed out the shortened game, striking out one.

In the second game of the day, facing the hosting Delaware State Hornets, Colgate was unable to match its opponent’s offense, falling 13-4. Although Colgate struck first, its run coming on a two-out single by Hartquist, and despite extending its lead to three in the second, the Raiders lost the lead in the bottom of the second when the Hornets tied it up. In the fourth and fifth, Delaware pulled away, scoring ten. Hollebeke earned her second loss of the season, giving up five earned runs in three innings.

The next day, Colgate bounced back, downing North Carolina Central 7-5 and beating Howard 5-2. Ortega had another phenomenal day at the plate, driving in three against North Carolina Central including her fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot, which came in the first. Dyson’s bunt single in the second scored Dolfi from third and stretched Dyson’s hitting streak to 14 straight games. North Carolina Central responded with three runs in the second inning, but quickly found itself down again as the Raiders moved ahead to 5-3 in the fourth. Scoring in every inning except the seventh, the Colgate offense was relentless. O’Connell earned her second collegiate victory after she pitched the final four innings.

Against Howard, Colgate again took an early lead. Harquist, who had hit a double to right field, scored on a hit by junior Brittany Hanrahan. A single up the middle in the third pushed Dyson’s hitting streak to fifteen. She later scored on a triple by Ortega. The Raiders tacked on their final runs in the fourth on a two-run double by Nicole Siedhof who was then brought to home plate by a single from Babb-Renta. Hollebeke seized her ninth win of the season against Howard in a complete-game five-hitter. Striking out four, Hollebeke allowed one earned run and two walks.

At the close of this tournament, Colgate’s season record stands at a commanding 17-5.

“Having a young team is both an advantage and a disadvantage,” Ortega commented. “The team is inexperienced; five of our players had never played college ball until this year and three have only played one season. However, being so young gives us a chance to start over new. It’s a brand new season with no expectations and no baggage from years past.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Ortega expressed both optimism and determined focus.

“We need to keep focusing on the basics and the fundamentals. We have to keep making the routine plays and executing offensively,” Ortega said. “We still have a lot of fine tuning to do as a team, but as long as everyone’s pulling their weight individually, like we’ve been doing so far this season, we’re going to keep being successful on the field.”

On this topic, Coach Vickie Sax echoed Ortega’s confidence.

“This last weekend in Delaware was an important last step of preparation for our ballclub before opening up this weekend with Patriot League play,” Sax said. “It reinforced our strengths and confidence that we have worked towards since our first practice. Our team strives toward each individual doing their part – knowing the team comes first.”

“We have high hopes for the season,” Ortega added. “We’re a talented group, and we have the potential to do a lot of big things this year. Our goal for the season is to host and win the Patriot League Tournament and we’ve been working hard to make those things happen for us.”

The next phase of the season, Patriot League play, kicks off this weekend with four games at Lehigh.