FORT MEYERS, Fla. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team did not let a heartbreaking loss in game one of its first day in Florida affect its confidence, as the Blue Jays overcame a five-run first-inning deficit and defeated New Jersey City University (NJCU) in an offensive slugfest, 17-11, at the CenturyLink Sports Complex Saturday afternoon.
Teams are competing all week down south in the annual Gene Cusic Classic, created by Cusic and Lee County Parks and Recreation (FL), giving collegiate baseball and softball teams an opportunity to participate in a classic style tournament during their respective spring breaks.
The Blue Jays (1-1) scored in all but the second inning, chipping away at an early five-run deficit one batter at a time. USJ tied and took the lead in the top of the fifth, and never looked back, converting on missed opportunities from the Gothic Knights (1-1), who had 12 errors on the game.
Junior shortstop Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) led the way once again for USJ at the plate, going 4-for-6 with a double and three runs batted in. Junior third baseman Brianna Barfield (North Attleboro, Mass.), freshman center fielder Ashlee White (Bristol, Conn.), and sophomore catcher Megan Burke (Parkland, Fla.) all added two RBI each. Senior shortstop Hannah Gavin (Bordentown, N.J.) led the way for the Gothic Knights with a hit, walk, and two RBI.
After trailing 9-4 in the first inning, the Blue Jays began to close the gap. An RBI single from Sharon and an NJCU error scored two runs. An RBI single from Burke scored two more, followed by a single from Barfield (which once again scored two) to give USJ the lead in the sixth. Sandwiched between those two RBI hits was an RBI single from freshman left fielder Samantha Iannone (Wallingford, Conn.) and an RBI double from Sharon.
USJ's electrifying offense (17 runs, 15 hits) prevented any late comeback attempt from the Gothic Knights. Relief pitching also did the job, as freshman pitcher Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) threw four and one third shutout innings (8 strikeouts), for her first career win (1-0). Freshman pitcher Julia Annecchiarico (Ludlow, Mass.) followed it up with a shutout seventh inning to put the game away.
USJ will be competing all week long in the annual Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Meyers and Naples, Florida. The Blue Jays will play in their second straight doubleheader Sunday, March 10, against Lesley (MA) at 9:00 a.m., and Western Connecticut State (CT) at 1:00 p.m.