The softball team opened their 2016 campaign going 1-3 in the Sea Gull Classic in Salisbury, Maryland last weekend.
In the first game, Lynchburg held New Paltz to just one hit and scored 10 runs off 11 hits of their own. The Hornets took a 10-0 win in the five-inning game on March 11.
Third-year infielder Nicole DeCosta said this year’s team is definitely one of the best teams she has ever been a part of since she started playing for the Hawks.
“Everyone has been working extremely hard and putting in a lot of extra work to get their jobs done on their own, which is something that is super crucial to being successful as a team,” she said. “It’s great to see people buying into the program and what the coaches want because it’s definitely going to help us out a lot in the long run.”
Second-year outfielder Julia Perhacs accounted for the Hawks’ lone hit of the ballgame. For Lynchburg, second-year outfielder Skylar Dickens went 3-for-3 to lead the Hornets. Third-year infielder Kayla St. John, and fourth-year outfielder and infielder Danielle Powell each batted 2-for-3 with a double and a home run. St. John finished with four RBIs, while Powell drove in three runs.
Hawks fourth-year pitcher Katie Rutcofsky recorded the loss in the circle for the Hawks, giving up seven runs (five earned) off seven hits, three walks and a hit by pitch, while second-year pitcher Conner English registered the win for the Hornets, allowing just one hit while striking out five.
In the nightcap, the Hawks rallied back to secure a 7-2 win. New Paltz recorded eight hits from seven batters in the victory.
First-year second baseman and shortstop Taylor LaFrance put New Paltz on the board for the first time this season and ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double to right center to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks increased the lead to 7-0 after a four-run third. With Perhacs on first base after a single up the middle, third-year outfielder Fallon Spriggs followed by singling to right, advancing Perhacs to second base. After a double-steal by Perhacs and Spriggs, DeCosta loaded the bases working a walk at the plate. Second-year outfielder Danielle Bruno sent home Perhacs after an RBI single to left.
After a Lynchburg pitching change, second-year first baseman and pitcher Lauren Cappello drove in Spriggs with a single down the right-field line. First-year second baseman and shortstop Shannon Fee capped off the rally with a two-run single down the right-field line.
In the sixth, Lynchburg drove in a run off a sacrifice fly. Next, second-year infielder Leslie Bourgeois pushed across a run with a single up the middle. However, it was not enough as the Hawks secured the victory.
Bruno keyed the Hawk attack, as she went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. LaFrance drove in three runs in her first collegiate at-bat, while her fellow classmate, Fee, posted two RBIs. Hawks third-year pitcher Taylor Corwin finished with a complete-game victory, yielding two runs off six hits and a hit by pitch while striking out one.
The following morning, the Hawks took on host No. 11 Salisbury University in a doubleheader and dropped both games.
Salisbury would take the first game 3-0. The Sea Gulls got on the board in the second inning, as a run came across on an error before second-year outfielder LeAnne Collins drove in a run with a base hit to center field. Fourth-year pitcher Annah Brittingham then ripped a solo home run to left-center field in the bottom of the third to increase the score 3-0 in favor of Salisbury.
Corwin threw well in the loss for New Paltz, allowing three runs (two earned) off seven hits and two walks. Brittingham earned the win for Salisbury, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out four.
Later that morning, the Sea Gulls would defeat the Hawks 9-2.
Heading into the top of the seventh, Salisbury held a 4-0 lead and would tack on five more runs. New Paltz countered in the home half of the inning, as third-year utility player Megan Carbia singled and LaFrance worked a walk before Spriggs drove in both runners with a double down the left-field line.
Spriggs provided the offense for the Hawks and went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, a double and a stolen base. DeCosta also notched multiple hits.
Hawks head coach Brittany Robinson said the team has to take advantage of any mistakes their opponents make, especially against top teams.
“We can’t let them take advantage of our mistakes and can’t compound errors with other mental mistakes,” she said. “They competed, and truly felt that they were in both of those games the whole entire time. I would like to have seen a little bit better adjustments at the plate.”
Fourth-year co-captain Jordan Fiore said this year’s team is very different from last year and chemistry has gotten much stronger.
“It really shows on the field,” she said. “It’s almost like we know each other’s next move before we make it. The relationships between our pitchers and catchers is awesome and very understanding. Our main priority this season is to focus on the little things that will influence the bigger things like winning.”
Last season, the Hawks recorded a 19-16 record overall and 9-9 tally in State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) play.
With a record of 1-3, the Hawks will continue their road trip as they travel to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to participate in the Fastpitch Dreams Classic from Friday, March 18 to Saturday, March 19.
Robinson said in practice this week the team is working on making adjustments that they did not make in the season opener.
“That was our downfall last year,” she said. “The few mistakes that we made this weekend are what put us in the position we were in last year. We are always going to make mistakes. But if we can get past those types of mistakes this weekend, we will be moving in the right direction.”