LITTLE RIVER, S.C. - The University of Saint Joseph softball team used a nine-run first inning to top Alfred State, 11-2, in its season opener before falling, 10-1, in the night cap of the Blue Jays' opening day twin bill on Thursday afternoon at the Fastpitch Dreams Classic. The tournament is being played at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex in Little River, S.C.
GAME 1 - USJ (11), Alfred St. (2)
Freshman Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) powered the Blue Jays to victory in her first collegiate game, going a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of RBI's, three runs scored and two stolen bases. She also picked up the win in the circle tossing a two-hitter with five strikeouts across five innings of work in a mercy rule shortened contest.
Alfred State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Blue Jays sent 13 batters to the plate in their first inning of the 2017 season to build an early 9-2 that they would never relinquish. USJ took advantage of control issues by the Pioneers' pitching staff, scoring their first six runs without registering a hit. Sharon would then provide the knockout blow with a two-RBI single to center to put USJ up 8-2. Sophomore Rachel Dube (Southington, Conn.) plated the final run of the opening frame with a RBI single to right to bring home Sharon from second.
The Blue Jays would then tack on two more runs in the third inning off the bat of sophomore Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) to close out the scoring in the 11-2 victory. Freshman Bianca Pappacoda (East Haven, Conn.) led off the frame with a single before Sharon followed with her second single to center of the game. Klimaszewski then came up clutch three batters later and drove in Pappacoda and Sharon with a two-out, two-RBI single to right field.
In her collegiate debut, Sharon twirled a two-hitter and struck out five inside the circle for USJ. She allowed two runs, both unearned, walked three and picked up the win to move to 1-0 on the season. Offensively, Klimaszewski finished 1-for-2 at the plate with three RBI's and a run scored, while freshman Brianna Barfield (North Attleboro, Mass.) was a perfect 2-for-2 with a run scored in her first game as a Blue Jay.
GAME 2 - USJ (1), Mt. St. Vincent (10)
The College of Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins pounded out 20 hits to down the Blue Jays, 10-1, in USJ's second game of the day and evened their record at 1-1 after the opening day of the 2017 season.
The Dolphins struck first in the top of the fourth inning. A two-out double by Taylor Milata brought home Rianna Laughridge, who doubled earlier in the frame, to give CMSV an early 1-0 lead.
The Blue Jays would respond though and tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom half of the fourth. With two outs and Dube standing on second, freshman McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.) ripped a double to wave home Dube and knot the contest.
It would be all Dolphins for the remainder of the game though as they scored nine unanswered runs for the 10-1 victory. Leading 3-1 heading into the top of the sixth, an RBI single from CMSV's Samantha Broo followed by a two-RBI double by Mackenzie Heizer built a 6-1 advantage and provided a comfortable lead.
The Dolphins tacked on four insurance runs in the top of the seventh and retired the Blue Jays in order in the bottom of the frame to eliminate any chance of a comeback attempt and the 10-1 victory.
USJ was held to four hits in the setback. Driscoll finished 1-for-3 with the RBI double, while Sharon, Dube and junior Sarah Ercoli (East Granby, Conn.) each picked up singles.
Freshman Nathalia Vega (Waterbury, Conn.) was dealt the loss in the circle for USJ to drop to 0-1 on the year in her collegiate debut.
The USJ softball team will return to action next with another doubleheader on Friday in the Fastpitch Dreams Classic. They open up with familiar foe Albertus Magnus at 9:30 a.m. before looking for revenge against Mt. St. Vincent at 11:30 a.m.