LITTLE RIVER, S.C. - Junior Sarah Ercoli (East Granby, Conn.) of the University of Saint Joseph softball team collected five hits and drove in five RBI in a two-game sweep of the Principia College Panthers on Sunday afternoon in the Blue Jays third day of action at the Fastpitch Dreams Classic. The sweep improves USJ's record to 3-3 overall on the season.
GAME 1 - USJ (6) Principia (0)
The Blue Jays struck first in the top of the second inning and it would be all they would need in the eventual 6-0 shutout. Sophomore Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) walked to lead off the inning and then would come around to score on a two-out, RBI double from freshman catcher Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) three batters later.
USJ increased its lead to 3-0 after posting a run in the fourth inning and fifth inning, respectively. Freshman Bianca Pappacoda drove in the run in the fourth with a RBI single to plate classmate Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) and sophomore Rachel Dube (Southington, Conn.) smacked a RBI single to score classmate Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) in the fifth.
Saint Joseph would then put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth inning to account for the 6-0 final. Pappacoda picked up her second RBI of the game after a single scored Sharon from second base. Ercoli provided the knockout blow three batters later with a two-RBI single to bring home sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) and Pappacoda.
Sharon picked up the win in the circle for the Blue Jays. She tossed a complete game shutout without issuing a walk. She struck out eight and allowed just five hits. Offensively, Sharon finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, Ercoli went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI and Pappacoda finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
GAME 2 - USJ (11) Principia (5)
The Blue Jays completed the sweep of Principia by posting four runs in the third, three in the fourth and four in the fifth en route to an 11-5 victory over the Panthers.
Principia struck first in game two and wasted little time pushing across a pair of runs in the top of the first inning to jump out to an early 2-0 advantage. USJ would answer though and in a big way with four runs in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, Sharon singled to bring home the first Blue Jay run before a sacrifice fly from Dube would tie the game at 2-2. Back-to-back singles from freshman McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.) and Klimaszewski drove in the final two runs of the inning.
The Blue Jays kept their foot on the pedal and added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Once again USJ loaded the bases and a wild pitch pushed across the first run of the inning before an Ercoli RBI single and Sharon sacrifice fly capped the scoring for the frame and made it 7-2 USJ.
Principia would not go away quietly though and used a three-run fifth inning to pull within 7-5. However, the Blue Jays would punch right back with four runs of their own in the following half inning to solidify the 11-5 final. Skoly and Ercoli did the damage as they each posted two-RBI singles in the frame.
Freshman Nathalia Vega (Waterbury, Conn.) picked up her first collegiate win in the circle for the Blue Jays in the victory. The rookie tossed five innings allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits and five walks and struck out one. Sharon came on in relief for USJ over the final two frames without allowing a run and struck out one.
Skoly, Ercoli and Sharon each finished with multi-hit games. Skoly went 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. Ercoli finished 2-for-4 with three RBI and Sharon went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored.
The USJ softball team will return to the diamond next as they wrap up their Myrtle Beach trip with a doubleheader against Westminster (Mo.) on Tuesday beginning at 9:30 a.m.