Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Elms College softball squad split a pair of games during the 2017 Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic at CenturyLink Complex Tuesday afternoon. The Blazers were edged by Rockford University, 8-7, in the first game, but rebounded to capture a 9-8 extra inning win over Alverno. Elms moves to 2-4 on the season, while Rockford sits at 1-3 and Alverno moves to 1-3.
Game 1: Rockford 8, Elms 7
The Regents jumped on the Blazers early, grabbing a 2-0 lead in the first inning as senior Lisa Blakely-Snyder (Winnebago, Ill.) scored on a wild pitch, followed by an RBI single from freshman Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.). The Rockford offense carried the momentum into the second inning, posting four runs on the scoreboard during the frame, ignited by an RBI single from senior Stefaney Kenworthy (Veedersburg, Ind.). Bihun added a two-run double to right-centerfield, and then sophomore Taylor Pilarczyk (Chicago, Ill.) tacked on a RBI single to hand the Regents a 6-0 lead.
The Blazers began working away at the deficit in the bottom of the second inning, kicked off by an RBI single from sophomore Catharine Wrang (Middletown, Conn.), which brought home a pair of runs. Elms continued battling in the third inning with leadoff singles from sophomores Madison Messier (Warren, Mass.) and Erin O'Donnell (Glenmont, N.Y.). Messier touched home on an RBI single from senior Tessa Cote (Granby, Mass.), and then senior Kacey Gifford (Suffield, Conn.) plated O'Donnell's pinch runner, freshman Katelyn Sylvia (Southwick, Mass.), with an RBI single to right field. The Blazers cut the gap to 6-5 as Gifford scored on a Rockford throwing error.
The Regents added to their advantage with an RBI single from Pilarczyk in the top of the fourth inning, and an RBI single from Bihun in the top of the fifth to push the lead to 8-5. The Blazers chipped away at the Rockford lead in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single from freshman Brenna Nelson (Millis, Mass.) and an RBI ground out from sophomore Jeszy McGuire (Brimfield, Mass.) to make it 8-7, but Elms came up short in the final innings.
Gifford led the Blazers at the dish, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI, while Messier and Wrang added two hits apiece. Cote (1-2) took a loss in the pitching circle in 3.1 innings of work. Kenworthy (1-2) earned the win for Rockford, allowing seven runs, four earned, on 12 hits with three strikeouts.
Game 2: Elms 9, Alverno 8 (8 Innings)
Leading 1-0 after the first inning, Alverno tacked on three runs in the second, paced by a two-run double from sophomore Bailey Jedrzejewski (Franklin, Wis.) to extend the Inferno advantage to 4-0. The Blazers cracked the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with Sylvia scoring on an RBI single from junior Elizabeth Olszewski (Canterbury, Conn.), cutting the deficit to 4-1.
Trailing 5-1 after five innings of play, the Blazers bats came alive in the sixth inning with singles from Wrang, sophomore Tea Sullivan (Dracut, Mass.), and Olszewski loading the bases. Senior Meg Shewchuk (Springfield, Mass.) knocked an RBI single to left field, followed by an RBI groundout from McGuire. Shewchuk and Olszewski came around to score on an Inferno error to tie the game at 5-5.
Forced into extra innings knotted at 5-5, Elms erupted with four runs in the top of the eighth inning, sparked by an RBI single from Olszewski. With two outs, Olszewski touched home on a wild pitch, followed by McGuire and Shewchuk scoring on an RBI single from Messier to stake the Blazers to a 9-5 lead.
Alverno mounted a comeback in the bottom of the frame with a two-run double from junior Ashlie Rossi (Hammond, Ind.) and an RBI groundout by sophomore Andie Vandertie (Algorna, Wis.), but came up short as the Blazers closed the door on the 9-8 win.
Olszewski paced the Blazers at the plate with a 3-for-4 game, driving in a pair of runs and scoring twice. Doherty and Wrang delivered two-hit performances, while Wrang and Shewchuk both scored twice. McGuire (1-1) claimed her first victory in the circle in relief, surrendering four runs, two earned, on five hits with three strikeouts.
The Blazers will return to the diamond for their final games of the 2017 Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, facing Bridgewater State at 9:00 a.m., and then New Jersey City at 11:00 a.m.