The Quinnipiac softball team entered Saturday one game behind their NEC rival Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. The Bobcats left Saturday one game on top behind huge performances from a couple of freshmen, much to the dismay of Central’s head coach who kicked over a bucket of balls in the second game of the doubleheader.
Bobcats overcome wind with 5-2 win
The Bobcats got their bats rolling in the bottom of the second starting with a hard single to right from junior first basemen Emily Bellush. After another single, sophomore second baseman Julie Sini doubled over the center fielder’s head scoring Bellush. Angela Casella scored two more runs on a single that was barely fair down the right field line. Then freshman Jessica Amenda drove in her first run of the game to give the Bobcats a 4-0 lead going into the third inning.
Amenda finished the day going 4-for-4 and driving in two runs.
Junior pitcher Jamie Iaquinto started the first game for the Bobcats and made it through the first two innings, but got into trouble in the third. After allowing the first three batters to reach and Central’s slugger Jaclyn Logan up next, head coach Germaine Fairchild was forced to bring in her secret weapon.
Phenom freshman pitcher Heather Schwartzburg came in and dazzled. She allowed two of Iaquinto’s runners to score on a groundout to third and a passed ball, but she struck out two in a row to end the Blue Devil threat.
“She’s one of two players on their team with power,” Fairchild said regarding Logan. “We knew coming in that we weren’t going to let her beat us. Schwartzburg did a great job with her. She had no place to put her with that situation and just went right at her.”
Schwartzburg’s pitching arsenal features a screwball, curveball and a fastball, but she said after the game that her screw was her best pitch in the games on Saturday. When she was warming up, the wind made her screw seem bad and her curve good, but when she got to the field her screw was working.
Swirling winds all day had fans wrapped in blankets and barbecuing chicken behind the outfield fence. But the gusts also affected the fly balls in the two games, as multiple flies dropped past leaping outfielders.
“It definitely played a big role in fly balls today for both teams,” junior third basemen Kelly Wall said. “Both outfielders did a great job going after the ball and staying with it.”
Wall caught two pop-ups in the first game, including one in foul territory right up against the fence. She also added two hits and scored twice in the second game.
Amenda’s two-out RBI single to left was her fourth hit of the day, and gave the Bobcats an insurance run to make the score 5-2. But Schwartzburg didn’t need it, as she caught the Blue Devil catcher looking to end the game for her eighth strikeout. She didn’t even allow a hit in her five-inning performance.
The two freshmen are leading the team in both major stat categories. Amenda is batting an absurd .563 in conference play, and Schwartzburg is sporting a 1.14 ERA and owns all three wins for the Bobcats.
Tempers flare in 5-2 win
Blue Devil leadoff hitter Tiffany Erickson woke Schwartzburg up with a towering home run to left-center field to start the second game off. Schwartzburg got back to work striking out the last two batters of the inning.
After Schwartzburg walked in a run in the third inning, the Bobcats needed a spark on offense. Amenda provided the jolt with a single to right in the bottom of the third. Wall, who said she knew Amenda was going to get on, was looking to tie the game up with a homer.
“I’m going to hit the ball hard. I’m going to hit it over the fence this time,” Wall said of what she was thinking in the on-deck circle. Instead of a homer, she hit the top of the fence on a line drive. “It would have been great if it went over, but I knew that after it stayed in my teammates would get us around.”
Wall was right. Junior catcher Katie Allendorfer followed Wall with a single that caused tempers to flare in the CCSU dugout. Allendorfer hit a soft line drive towards the shortstop, but the third baseman made an attempt at catching it, and the ball dropped. When the shortstop went to pick up the ball, Wall bumped into her and continued to third as Amenda raced home.
CCSU coach stormed out of the dugout to argue the call, but home plate umpire Tony Candido explained the situation.
“The rule is if one other infielder tries to make a play on the ball, and the ball gets by her, and then the contact is caused between the runner and shortstop (secondary player) there is no dead ball,” Candido said. “If the first player in the infield makes a play on the ball, anything that happens after that is nothing.”
The coach continued to argue, but eventually made her way back to the dugout where she proceeded to kick over a bucket of softballs. Surprisingly, she was not ejected and was quiet for the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats had a rally going now with all of the momentum on their side. Kim Le Bel pinch ran for Allendorfer and promptly stole second. This opened the door for Bellush to drive in a run on a groundout to second. Junior outfielder Heather Maffeo gave the Bobcats the lead with a line-drive single to left, making the score 3-2 at the end of the third.
Schwartzburg allowed just one more hit the rest of the way, but struck out another eight batters for a grand total of 16 strikeouts on the day. The Bobcats tallied two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-2. A strange circumstance of déj