The Quinnipiac University softball team swept Fairleigh Dickinson this past weekend, taking both games from the Knights, after winning the second game in dramatic fashion 3-2.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Emily Bellush stepped up to the plate for the Bobcats. Blasting the ball into left field, Bellush drove pinch runner Julie Sini home and secured the win for Quinnipiac.
“I just wanted to hit the ball hard and give the team the best opportunity to get the run in,” Bellush said of her thoughts going into the at bat.
Yet, the suspense was maintained until the ball landed just shy of a home run at the fence in left field.
“I just backed up to make sure it stayed fair,” coach Germaine Fairchild said. “We’ve played under pressure a lot this year and today we were able to overcome the tough spots and come back and win the game and that was a turning point in that sense for us.”
Mired in a pitcher’s duel, neither team scored until the eighth when Knights centerfielder Justina Augustine hit the ball hard to right field to load the bases with no outs. In an unfortunate mishap by catcher Katie Allendorfer, a pitch from Jaimie Iaquinto got away allowing Fairleigh Dickinson pinch runner Maria Finnegan to score from third.
One batter later, Knights right fielder Brianne Benedict was able to drive in another run by third baseman Meghan Doherty before the inning was ended with a diving stop by Bobcats third baseman Kelly Wall, who got the ball to Bellush just in time for the out.
But Quinnipiac stayed focused and were not intimidated by these two late runs. The Bobcats bounced back and took advantage of Knights second baseman Hope Hilman overthrowing first on a routine play, which allowed Joelle Jacobsen to score from third.
Keeping the bats alive with runners at first and third, Wall lobbed the ball into right field, confusing the Knights as three fielders collided and allowed Bellush to score the tying run.
The win was a bounce back victory for the Bobcats, who were swept on Saturday against Sacred Heart.
Managing only six hits in each game and combining for five errors on the day, the Bobcats fell 4-2 and 9-1.
As for Sunday’s sweep, starting pitcher Iaquinto was excited about the overall team performance.
“It was a team win. I mean the defense was awesome, the hitting was awesome so it was just a great win for the entire team,” she said.
Though it was an all-around win for the team, Iaquinto had to overcome questionable calls from the umpire and stay focused.
“I think [Iaquinto] pitched an amazing game,” Bellush said. “We had a tough eighth inning and she came right back out in the ninth and shut them down. A lot of pitchers would get flustered but she stayed really confident and that helped us stay in the game.”
“I think we came in really relaxed today. We just told each other to come out and do what we love and forget about everything else. And you live for those situations coming in down and coming out and winning the game,” Bellush said.
Though the Bobcats had to battle to sweep the Knights, the first win came more easily for Quinnipiac.
“We had a little easier time scoring [first game] so this game took us a little longer,” Fairchild said. “The first game we just had a little bit more breathing room than [the second] game.”
After the nail-biting finish to the weekend, Fairchild plans to give the Bobcats some of that breathing room back.
“We’re gonna rest for two days basically and then come out and practice Wednesday,” Fairchild said. “The end of this week is going to get crazy [with a doubleheader Thursday and Pennsylvania on Friday], so we’re basically going to rest for the beginning of the week.”