WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph softball dropped both ends of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader to Norwich Sunday at USJ.
Norwich pitcher Rachel Johnson (Stockbridge, Verm.) allowed one earned run over 13 innings to pick up two wins as Norwich won the opener 2-1 in nine innings and the late game, 9-1 in six. Norwich improved to 14-16 overall and 12-6 in the GNAC; USJ, which tumbled from first place to third in the conference standings, is 23-9 and 13-5.
Johnson and USJ's Patti Sciglimpaglia (Norwalk, Conn.) hooked up in a first-game pitcher's duel that went scoreless into the eighth inning. Both teams pushed across the NCAA tie-breaker runner in the eighth. Norwich's Madison Miller (Long Lake, N.Y.) started at second, was bunted to third by Naomi Rinaldo (Middlefield, Conn.) and scored on a two-out error. For the Blue Jays, Sarah Ercoli (Plainville, Conn.) was placed at second, went to third on a bunt single by Patti Sciglimpaglia and third on a walk to Mary Sciglimpaglia. Rachel Dube (Southington, Conn.) grounded to short and reached first when the throw home was too late and Ercoli scored. USJ still had the bases loaded and no out, but Johnson kept the Cadets in it by getting the next three batters, the first two on strikes.
In the Norwich ninth, Kassy Kazimierczak (Adams, Mass.) was placed at second, was bunted to third by Payton Warner (Harwich, Mass.) and scored on a single to left by Jessica Hindman (Mansfield, Mass.) For USJ, Haley McCall (Lebanon, Conn.) was placed at second and went to third on a wild pitch. Again Johnson came up big for the Cadets as USJ made the final three outs without getting the ball out of the infield and stranding McCall at third.
There was less drama in the finale as Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) had three hits and scored three runs for Norwich and Sarah Perry (New Bedford, Mass.) had two hits and three RBI. Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) had two hits for the Blue Jays and Patti Sciglimpaglia (Norwalk, Conn.) had an RBI-single.
The Blue Jays honored its four seniors, the Sciglimpaglia twins, McCall and Emily Vigue (Lebanon, Conn.) before playing their final regular-season home games. USJ is 94-49 over the past four years.
"I call them the Core-4 because they've contributed so much to this softball program, both as players and as captains," USJ coach Jim McKinnon said. "I was happy when all four of them decided to come to USJ four years ago and they've lived up to all of the expectations. It's been a pleasure to coach them and I will miss them immensely."
USJ next hosts Albertus in a GNAC doubleheader, Wed. April 27 at 3 p.m. Norwich hosts Lasell, also in a Wednesday 3 p.m. conference twinbill.