FORT MYERS, Fla. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team split a pair in their second day of doubleheader action at the Gene Cusic Classic Sunday.
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.
In game one, the Blue Jays (2-1) scored the game-winning run in a tie ballgame in the bottom of the seventh, as senior third basemen Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) reached home on a wild pitch, capping the victory over Lesley College (LC), 8-7, at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Senior shortstop Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) was 2-for-3 with a double, single and two RBI. Junior pitcher Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) was also 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk. Senior shortstop Ashleigh Acker (Apopka, Fla.) had a game-high three RBI, including a two-RBI double for the Lynx (1-2).
Sharon pitched six tough innings for USJ, allowing six earned runs and three walks. Freshman pitcher Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) got the win (2-0) with a closeout seventh inning (one hit, one walk). Freshman pitcher Kara Haga (Levittown, N.Y.) threw five solid innings, allowing only two earned runs, while sophomore pitcher Jordan Day (Seminole, Fla.) took the loss (0-2).
Both teams put up three runs in the first inning, but it was the work by the Blue Jays in the fifth and sixth that put them in position to win in the end. Down 4-3, Russo cracked an RBI double in the fifth. Senior center fielder Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) scored on a throwing error after sophomore second baseman Michelle Woodruff (Southington, Conn.) singled in the sixth. Junior Brianna Barfield (North Attleboro, Mass.) came up clutch with a pinch-hit RBI single, scoring Woodruff, and giving the Blue Jays a 7-4 lead into the seventh.
The Lynx answered back with three runs to tie the game at seven-all going into the bottom of the seventh. Klimaszewski led off with a single, then reached second and third on wild pitches. With the winning run a base away, the pressure continued to mount. A third straight wild pitch sent Klimaszewski home, and the Blue Jays celebrated an 8-7 victory.
In Game 2, the Blue Jays (2-2) were outplayed by a tough and talented Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) team, who took a four-run lead in the third and never looked back, defeating USJ 10-0, at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Senior first baseman Nicole Bonanni (Norwalk, Conn.) got the offense going for the Colonials (3-1) with a two-RBI single in the top of the third. Junior right fielder Erica Bower (Hillsborough, N.J.) had a game-high three hits (3-4), including an RBI single to make it 3-0. Senior second baseman Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.), junior catcher McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.), and freshman left fielder Anna Hendrickson (Meriden, Conn.) got the only three hits for the Blue Jays (2-2) on the game.
Junior pitcher Sara Tenke (Glen Cove, N.Y.) pitched seven strong innings, getting her first win of the season (1-1). She finished with seven strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Alessandra Milardo (Plantsville, Conn.) was dealt the loss (0-1), allowing five earned runs in five innings. She struck out one.
Milardo and USJ kept it close until the top of the third, when WCSU got hot with four runs on four hits and one error. The Blue Jays could not find a way to chip into the lead, as the Colonials put on three more runs in the sixth and seventh to seal the deal.
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 third straight doubleheader Tuesday, March 11, against Curry (MA) at 9:00 a.m., and Kenyon (OH) at 11:00 a.m.