March 4, 2011

SHU Softball Splits Two Games On Opening Day; Walk-Off Double Ends Both

Freshman Jade Bowins (Frederick, MD) got her first collegiate hit, a walk-off two RBI double, as the Pioneers rallied from five runs down against Northern Illinois for a 6-5 victory at the Colorado State Classic Friday morning.  However, SHU would fall victim to a Santa Clara game winning double in a 7-6 defeat to finish the day with a 1-1 record.  Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) went 6-for-7 at the plate over the two games, blasting a homerun en route to scoring three runs and totaling three RBI.

Sacred Heart (1-1) struggled in the field in its opening contest of 2011, racking up seven errors behind senior pitcher Jen Russell (Seymour, CT).  The miscues allowed Northern Illinois (3-8) to build a 5-0 cushion on just two earned runs.  The Pioneers opened the bottom of the sixth with a walk from Alyssa Garza (Valencia, CA) followed by a double from senior Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA).  After the next two batters could not drive home a run SHU got on the board with a wild pitch.  Tsipouras roped a double to right-center field and eventually scored herself on a Huskie error to make it 5-3, NIU.

SHU put the tying runs on base to start the last of the seventh on a Shannon McCoy (Yorba Linda, CA) double and a Carley Rudloff (Queen Creek, AZ) free pass.  Melissa Tobin (Hudson, MA) sacrificed the pair into scoring position and another wild pitch made it a one-run game.  The Huskies got the second out of the frame and intentionally walked Froelich to bring up Bowins with the winning run now at first.  The rookie left-hander slashed a double to plate both runs and give Sacred Heart its first win of the year.  Russell picked up the victory in the pitching circle, tossing a complete game and notching seven K's.

Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA) ripped a two-bagger to left center with two outs in the top of the first inning against Santa Clara (1-4).  Tsipouras, who finished 2010 with eight homers, recorded her first dinger of the year to put SHU up 2-0 early.  Lee broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the third with her first homerun of the season, a solo shot.  Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC) made it 4-2 with a RBI single as the starting pitcher padded her lead.  However, the sophomore hurler would only last four innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits, three walks and five strikeouts.

Jasmin Vicente (Wantagh, NY) pulled the Pioneers even again at 5-5 on a sacrifice fly to drive in McCoy.  Santa Clara pushed ahead 6-5 on back-to-back hits against Russell, who came on to pitch two innings of relief.  Nikki Surkes (Brightwaters, NY) again leveled Sacred Heart in its last attempt at-bat with a bases loaded single.  However, SHU would strand three-runners on base to close the inning and head to the last of the seventh even at 6-6.

Freshman Taylor Lane (Lisbon, CT) entered the pitching circle for the first time in her collegiate career to start the bottom of the seventh.  She retired the first batter she faced with a pop out to second.  But a one out double put the winning run in scoring position.  The next batter again popped out to put Lane one out away from escaping the frame.  But Santa Clara got a walk-off double to end the game 7-6 and force the Pioneers to settle for a split on their opening day of 2011.

Sacred Heart will be back at it again tomorrow for two more games at the Colorado State Classic.  SHU will first have a rematch with Santa Clara before taking on tournament host Colorado State.