FORT MYERS, Fla. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team once again split a pair of games in their third day of doubleheader action at the Gene Cusic Classic Tuesday.
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 spring break.
In game one, the Blue Jays (3-2) took a three-run lead in the third inning, and despite allowing a five-run sixth, their offense consistently kept them in front to the very end, defeating Curry College (CC), 12-8, at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Senior second baseman Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) continued where she left off Sunday, going 3-for-5 with three hits and three RBI. Senior third basemen Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) was 3-for-5 as well with two RBI. Freshman catcher Kacy O'Connor (Milford, Conn.) finished 2-for-4 on the morning with two singles, a walk, and three RBI. Junior catcher Michaela Colleran (East Bridgewater, Mass.) led the way for the Colonials (3-2) with a double, two singles and three RBI.
Freshman pitcher Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) made it a perfect 3-0 this season, allowing only three earned runs to go with three strikeouts in five and one-third innings. Freshman pitcher Julia Annecchiarico (Ludlow, Mass.) picked up her first save of the season with an inning and two-thirds of shutdown softball. Sophomore pitcher Allison May (West Bridgewater, Mass.) took the loss (0-2), allowing seven earned runs in six and two-thirds innings.
A four-run, five-hit third inning put USJ out in front with all the momentum, as Russo started it off with a one-out single. It was followed by a Driscoll single, an O'Connor single and throwing error, a double slapped into the outfield by senior center fielder Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.), and a single by sophomore first baseman Amanda Thiel (Torrington, Conn.). Two more errors later, and the Blue Jays took a 5-1 lead.
Down 9-3, the Colonials made a huge rally in the bottom of the sixth—five runs on six hits (2B, 5 1B's) to make it 9-8. Amato left the game after allowing four straight. Annecchiarico allowed one unearned run before getting out of the jam. Saint Joe's went back to work in the top of the seventh though, unwilling to let this one get away. The Blue Jays scored three runs in the top of the inning, including a key insurance run that was driven home by Klimaszewski on a two-out RBI single. Skoly also drew a bases-loaded walk, and Russo added in another RBI single. The Colonials got the bases loaded with two outs down four, but Annecchiarico forced a groundout to third base to end the rally in its tracks.
In game two, the Blue Jays (3-3) held a 3-2 lead after four innings, but the Ladies of Kenyon College (KC) would score the final nine runs of the game, four in the fifth, to win in convincing fashion, 11-3.
Freshman third baseman Nicole Bishay (Los Angeles, Calif.) and freshman catcher Olivia Hurley (Bloomington, Ind.) both led the way for the Ladies (11-3) with three RBI each. Freshman shortstop Sara Campagna (Saint Charles, Ill.) was 3-for-5 with three singles. USJ had just four hits on the game, two of them from Klimaszewski, who had the team's only RBI. Annecchiarico pitched a solid four-plus innings (4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), while sophomore pitcher Alessandra Milardo (Plantsville, Conn.) could not get the pitches where she wanted them, allowing seven earned runs and five walks.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the Blue Jays got two runs across in a less conventional way. Freshman first baseman Frankie Ferrante (Southington, Conn.) reached first on a throwing error. It allowed sophomore right fielder Michelle Woodruff (Southington, Conn.) to advance to second but was thrown out at third. Two runs scored amidst all the chaos, giving USJ a 3-2 lead.
The Ladies answered back during the shutdown inning, as a three-run triple by Hurley cleared the bases, shifting the momentum. KC added five more runs in the final two innings to close it out.
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 fourth doubleheader Wednesday, March 12, against Pitt-Bradford (PA) at 1:00 p.m., and Rochester Institute (N.Y.) at 5:00 p.m.