UConn spoils softball’s home-opener

Justin Cohen

The mountain was hard to climb again for the Quinnipiac Bobcats softball team. After a week of close contests against tough competition in California and a close loss to the Fairfield Stags on Wednesday, the Bobcats returned home Friday to face the UConn Huskies in a grudge match against the intrastate rivals. The Huskies were victorious, winning 5-2, but not without a valiant effort by the Bobcats.

Heather Schwartzberg, pitching her first game at Bobcat Field, struggled against the first batter of the game. On a 0-2 count, Schwartzberg sent a fastball high but over the plate and Julianne Towers tattooed it over the left center field wall into the wind to set the tone for the Huskies.

“That’s a learning process that every young pitcher goes through,” head coach Germaine Fairchild said. “You don’t throw the ball over the plate with two strikes.”

The Huskies scraped together two more runs in both the fourth and sixth innings, while Quinnipiac only managed two hits off Huskies starter and winning pitcher Tricia Sullivan. Schwartzberg went the distance, allowing all five runs on eight hits in the loss.

The Bobcats rallied in the seventh inning, scoring two, but could not make up the five run deficit. Rachel Crossin came into relieve Sullivan and walked three batters in the seventh. Heather Maffeo walked to lead off the inning, then Rachel Felker reached on an error before pinch hitter Mina Duffy was walked to load the bases. Then Crossin walked Kim Brzezinski, which sent home Maffeo to put the Bobcats on the board. The Bobcats scored once more on a wild pitch but with the tying run at the plate, Angela Casella struck out to end the game.

Coach Fairchild was happy with her team’s performance in the end, but knew they had dug themselves too deep a hole early on.

“Hopefully heading into conference play we can learn to not make our mountain quite so high,” Fairchild said.

The Huskies improve to 9-8 on the season while the Bobcats fall to 3-15. Quinnipiac will open conference play this weekend at Sacred Heart and Fairleigh Dickinson.