NAPLES, Fla. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team had their backs against the wall Thursday, trailing early in both games, and were ultimately unable to get over the hump, going 0-2 on day five of doubleheader action in the Gene Cusic Classic.
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 spring break.
In game one, the Blue Jays (4-5) struggled to get the ball in play until the bottom of the sixth inning, already down 7-0, and did not have enough time to get back in the game, losing to Rockford University (RU), 8-3, at North Collier Park.
Sophomore second baseman Gretchen Schrubbe (Elgin, Ill.) and junior shortstop Annaka Bartz (Rockton, Ill.) stole the show offensively, combining to hit a perfect 7-for-7 with a home run (Shrubbe), a double (Bartz), five singles and two runs batted in. Junior left fielder Emily Cox (Erie, Ill.) also blasted one over the fence for the Regents (6-6). Freshman first baseman Frankie Ferrante (Southington, Conn.) led the way for the Blue Jays with a two-RBI double and a walk. Freshman catcher Lindsey O'Bright (New Britain, Conn.) also connected for USJ, hitting an RBI single.
Freshman pitcher Rylee Klema (Mendota, Ill.) went the distance for RU, striking out nine batters and allowing three runs. Freshman pitcher Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) took her first loss of the season (3-1), allowing four earned runs on eight hits, including the two homers.
A home run for Cox in the third inning gave the Regents a 3-0 lead. Schrubbe added a solo shot to left field in the fifth, followed by two runs on a throwing error to make it 6-0.
USJ had just four hits through five innings, but finally broke through with a two-out rally in the sixth, as Ferrante doubled to left, scoring junior center fielder Bianca Pappacoda (East Haven, Conn.), and sophomore left fielder Michelle Woodruff (Southington, Conn.). O'Bright slapped a single to score Ferrante, cutting the gap nearly in half to 7-3.
The Blue Jays could not contain the Regents though, as they scored another run in the top of the seventh to put the game away. USJ got one runner on in the seventh, but could not get another two-out rally going.
In Game 2, the Blue Jays (4-6) ran into freshman pitcher Gianna Corbin (Morris, Ill.), who threw a two-hit shutout (7 IP, 8 K) for North Central College (NCC), as they won their second game of the year, 3-0, at North Collier Park.
Freshman first baseman Breanna Adams (Mundelein, Ill.) and sophomore center fielder Emily Miller (McHenry, Ill.) led the way for the Cardinals (2-0) with two hits and an RBI each. Sophomore second baseman Michelle Woodruff (Southington, Conn.) had the only two Blue Jay hits on the game, finishing 2-for-3.
Corbin allowed just two walks and two hits in a complete game (1-0). Junior pitcher Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) took her first loss of the season (2-1), allowing three earned runs on nine hits. She struck out four.
Adams got things going for NCC, driving in a run with an RBI single. Freshman right fielder Molly Cann (Kankakee, Ill.) drove in the second run in the top of the third, also an RBI single. As Corbin continued to shut the Blue Jays down, the Cardinals tacked on an insurance run in the sixth; an RBI single from Miller. 3-0 NCC.
Freshman first baseman Frankie Ferrante (Southington, Conn.) drew a two-out walk in the seventh, but USJ was unable to get a rally going, being held scoreless for only the second time this season.
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 sixth straight and final doubleheader Friday, March 15, in a rematch against North Central (Ill.) at 9:00 a.m., and Nazareth (N.Y.) at 11:00 a.m.