FORT MYERS, Fla. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team split a pair in its fourth day of doubleheader action at the Gene Cusic Classic Wednesday.
Teams are competing all week down south in the annual Gene Cusic Classic, created by Cusic and Lee County Parks and Recreation (FL), giving collegiate baseball and softball teams an opportunity to participate in a classic style tournament during their spring breaks.
In game one, the Blue Jays (4-3) took an early 3-0 lead, and thanks to some lights out pitching from junior pitcher Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.), they maintained a one-run lead for most of the game, defeating the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford (UPB), 4-3, inside the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Sharon and senior third baseman Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) led the way offensively, each going 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and an RBI. Freshman first basemen Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) and Frankie Ferrante (Southington, Conn.) added an RBI single apiece. Junior catcher Betty Fratercangelo (Olean, N.Y.) and third baseman Lindsey Hull (Hamburg, N.Y.) both drove in a run for the Panthers (3-4).
On the mound, Sharon (1-0) went the distance, allowing three earned runs on nine hits. She also had five strikeouts and no walks. Freshman pitcher Melanie Davis (Roaming Shores, Ohio) took the loss (0-2), allowing four runs (3 ER) on 11 hits in six innings.
The Blue Jays got things going from the start, as Sharon and Klimaszewski led off with back-to-back doubles, Klimaszewski's to left center, driving in Sharon. Three batters later, Amato hit a one-out single to score Klimaszewski. USJ led 2-0 after one inning.
In the bottom of the second, Saint Joe's got back on the board again, as an RBI single from Sharon led to a well-deserved score for sophomore second baseman Michelle Woodruff (Southington, Conn.), who drew a walk, stole second, and reached home on the hit. USJ took a 3-0 lead after two.
The Panthers were not going to go away though, as they relied on aggressiveness on the bases to get back in it. Freshman right fielder Maeghan Wynn (Pleasantville, Penn.) reached on a single but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Later with runners on the corners, the Panthers performed a double steal. Davis stole home and scored, while senior left fielder Grace Dadzaa (Grove City, Penn.) stole second. Dadzza was driven in one batter later, and just like that, the Panthers trailed by only a run, 3-2.
Three singles scored the next run for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the fifth, as Klimaszewski crossed home plate on Ferrante's shot up the middle. UPB came right back in the top of the sixth, as a ground out by Hull drove in another run. USJ led 4-3 heading to the seventh.
Sharon's experience on the mound showed in the final half inning. She retired the side 1-2-3, with a strikeout closing her 37th career complete game and the first of the season.
In Game 2, the Blue Jays (4-4) got down 3-0 early, and were unable to recover, falling to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), 7-3, inside the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Sophomore third baseman Raquel Estrada (Middletown, N.Y.) was the only player with multiple runs batted in (2-3, 2B, 1B, 2 RBI). Her teammate, freshman designated player Jennifer Vickery (Gloversville, N.Y.) was a home run shy of the cycle (3-4, 3B, 2B, 1B, RBI). The Tigers (4-4) scored the first six runs of the game. Senior shortstop Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) and junior catcher McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.) had the lone RBI for the Blue Jays.
Freshman pitcher Abcde Cortinas (San Antonio, Tex.) got the win for RIT with a four and two-thirds innings shutout (2 hits). Junior pitcher Torie Adler (West Chester, Penn.) picked up the save. Sophomore pitcher Alessandra Milardo (Plantsville, Conn.) (0-3) allowed six runs (4 ER) on six hits and four walks for USJ.
The Tigers opened the game with a bang, as Vickery tripled to drive in the first run, followed by an Estrada two-RBI double, making it 3-0 RIT after one inning.
Rochester tacked on three more in the fifth, putting USJ in a tough spot with six outs to go. The Blue Jays answered with a three-run sixth off a Russo RBI double, a Driscoll RBI single, and a throwing error. They were unable to do anything against Adler in the seventh though, as Saint Joe's went down 1-2-3 in the final inning.
USJ will be competing all week long in the annual Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Meyers and Naples, Florida. The Blue Jays will play in their fifth straight doubleheader Thursday, March 14, in Naples against Rockford (Ill.) at 11:00 a.m., and North Central (Ill.) at 1:00 p.m.