Fairfield, CT – It was a day for firsts at the newly renovated Pioneer Park as the SHU softball team earned its first victory inside the stadium en route to a double header split with Yale Wednesday evening. Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) cranked the first homerun and freshman Kate Nadler (Southbury, CT) powered out the park's first grand slam to provide the winning runs in game one. The Pioneers won the opener, 7-4, before falling in the nightcap, 3-0.
Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC) wasted no time recording the first hit in the new ballpark, leading off the bottom of the first by ripping a double off the top of the left field wall. Jade Bowins (Frederick, MD) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Sidor to third and set the stage for the first run at the new Pioneer Park. Annie Dreher (Saugus, CA) picked up the inaugural RBI with a fielder's choice ground out to give SHU a 1-0 advantage.
Yale (8-28) would quickly respond with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Kelsey Warkentine and Riley Hughes both recorded singles to bring up Chelsea Janes with runners on first and second with two outs. Janes deposited a single down the right field line to score Warkentine while the Pioneers tried to cut down Hughes at third. However, an errant throw would allow Hughes to scamper home and give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.
Sacred Heart (17-26) pulled even in the bottom of the fourth on Tsipouras' solo homer, her sixth long ball of 2012. Justine Sibthorp (Santa Clarita, CA) and Nikki Surkes (Brightwaters, NY) started a two-out rally with back-to-back singles. Alyssa Garza (Santa Clarita, CA) put a single into right center field with both runners in scoring position. Sibthorp scored easily but Surkes was gunned down at the plate as SHU went on top 3-2 after four innings.
The Pioneers would break the game open in the fifth as Yale's Kylie Williamson issued three walks to load the bases. Nadler would make the Bulldogs pay with her third homerun of the season, a grand slam over the left field wall to make it 7-2. Yale was able to tack on a pair of runs in the sixth but Sidor would go the distance in the circle to pick up her 13th victory of the season as SHU won the first game ever played in the newly renovated Pioneer Park, 7-4.
Yale struck early in the second game of the double header with a pair of markers in the top of the first inning. Kylie Williamson delivered a two-run triple with two outs to chase home Jennifer Ong and Meg Johnson to push the Bulldogs out in front, 2-0.
The rest of the contest featured solid pitching for both squads. Chelsey Dunham would work through a few jams to notch a complete game shutout, the first clean sheet for a Yale pitcher in 2012. Taylor Lane (Lisbon, CT) was superb for SHU out of the bullpen, working 5.2 innings while allowing just three hits and one run.
Sacred Heart put a pair of runners in scoring position in the fourth inning with one out. Carley Rudloff (Queen Creek, AZ) laid down a bunt to put the tying run at second base but SHU would be unable to capitalize. After Yale put up an insurance run without the benefit of a hit in the seventh inning the Pioneers threatened again in the bottom of the seventh. Nadler and Sibthrop both notched infield singles while Lisa Dean (Fairfield, CT) drew a walk to load the bases. However, Dunham set down the last two batters of the contest to preserve the shutout and give Yale the win, 3-0.
The SHU softball team will play its first Northeast Conference games in Pioneer Park this Thursday as the host first-place Robert Morris. First pitch is set for 3:00 pm.
Starting Lineups Announced:
Taylor Lane and Jade Bowins Sing the National Anthem
Sacred Heart University President Dr. John J. Petillo Throws Out the First Pitch