Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Elms College softball squad split a pair of games Sunday afternoon at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic at CenturyLink Complex. The Blazers opened the day with a 7-5 victory over Rockford University, and then fell to Swarthmore, 9-2. Elms moves to 2-2 on the season, while Rockford sits at 2-1 and Swarthmore improves to 3-1.
Game 1: Elms 7, Rockford 5 (Final)
Rockford threatened to score in the top of the first, loading the bases with two out, but Elms freshman Raeanna Tumel (Stafford, Conn.) induced a pop out to second base to end the inning.
The Blazers struck first in the bottom of the first as freshman Keyla Oliveras (Springfield, Mass.) led the frame off by reaching on an error, and then came around to score on errant throw on bunt single from Madison Messier (Warren, Mass.) to stake Elms to a 1-0 lead. After stealing second, Messier scored on an RBI single from sophomore Elizabeth Olszewski (Canterbury, Conn.) to give the Blazers a 2-0 lead after the first.
In the bottom of the second, Elms added to their advantage as senior Kierstan Skinner (South Windsor, Conn.) knocked home freshman Catharine Wrang (Middletown, Conn.) with a single up the middle. Oliveras moved Skinner to second on a single, and the pair came around to score on a two-run single from Messier to push the Blazers lead to 5-0.
The Regents rallied with four runs in the third, all coming with two outs. Rockford loaded the bases behind singles from junior Mercedes Boykin (Belvidere, Ill.) and senior Brittany Bura (Chicago, Ill.) and an error from Elms. Senior Alex Storey (Dexter, Mich.) knocked a single to centerfield scoring Bura, followed by a two-run from sophomore Abigail Wellwood (Rockford, Ill.). The Regents tacked on another run on an RBI single by junior Lisa Blakeley-Snyder (Winnebago, Ill.), to cut the Blazers lead to 5-4.
With two outs and two runners on in the bottom of the fourth, Messier ripped a single up the middle, scoring senior Samantha Alvino (Holtsville, N.Y.) from second base, and then Oliveras was allowed to scamper home on a throwing error by freshman centerfield Shannon LeGath (Sturtevant, Wis.) to pad the Elms advantage to 7-4.
The Regents tried to continue their rally in the fifth as Boykin delivered a two-out RBI single to right field, but Elms junior Tessa Cote (Granby, Mass.) stifled the Rockford run with a pop out to shortstop. Cote held the Regents off the scoreboard for three innings, including a 1-2-3 seventh inning to lock up the 7-5 win.
Messier powered the Blazers offense with a career-high four hits and three RBIs. Oliveras scored three times with two hits, while Olszewski and Skinner tallied RBIs. Cote (1-1) earned her first win of the season in relief of Tumel, allowing one run on five hits with a strikeout. Tumel gave up four runs, all unearned, on 11 hits in three innings of work.
Blakeley-Snyder, Bura and Wellwood recorded three hits apiece for Rockford. Wellwood drove in a pair of runs, while Boykin and freshman Cailtin Eiben (Racine, Wis.) notched two hits each.
Game 2: Swarthmore 9, Elms 2 (Final)
The Blazers grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Oliveras led the game off with a single down the right field line, stole second and third base, and then scored on an RBI single from Wrang.
Swarthmore took control in the third as freshman Marit Vike (Malvern, Pa.) opened the frame with a single and then stole second base. Junior Sara Planthaber (Chester Springs, Pa.) brought home Vike with an RBI single up the middle to even the score at 1-1. The Garnet pulled ahead, 2-1, behind an RBI single from freshman Emily Barranca (Delmar, N.Y.).
Elms knotted the score at 2-2 in the top of the fifth. Oliveras knocked a leadoff single, advanced to third on groundout and then touched home as Olszewski ripped an RBI single up the middle.
The Garnet regained control in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases on their first three batters. Swarthmore sophomore Frankie Ponziani (Pittsburgh, Pa.) cleared the bags with a three-run triple to centerfield, pushing Swarthmore to a 5-2 advantage. The Garnet extended their lead in the sixth inning as freshman Bekah Katz (Long Valley, N.J.) knocked a two-run single, followed by Katz scoring on a Blazers error. With the bases loaded, Vike singled to shortstop to score Ponziani and increase the Swarthmore lead to 9-2. Garnet freshman McKenzie Ward (Tampa, Fla.) recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh to secure the 9-2 win for Swarthmore.
Oliveras tallied two hits and scored twice, while Wrang and Olszewski notched RBIs. Cote (1-2) took the loss for Elms, allowing nine runs, five earned, on 13 hits with a strikeout.
Planthaber and freshman Elizabeth Curcio (Riverdale, N.Y.) logged three hits each, while Katz added a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs. Vike had two hits with a run scored and an RBI. Ward (1-0) earned the complete game win, surrendering two runs on five hits with a game-high seven strikeouts.
The Blazers will return to the diamond with a pair of games Tuesday afternoon. Elms faces Northland at 1:00 p.m., followed by a game against Wisconsin Lutheran at 3:00 p.m. Rockford takes on Kenyon at 11:00 a.m. Monday, and Nazareth College at 1:00 p.m. Swarthmore is back in action Tuesday against Drew University at 9:00 a.m. and Nazareth at 11:00 a.m.