Sunday, April 20, 2008

Softball Sweeps DH At Rutgers, Improves To 6-6

Report based on CSTV's Gametracker
Piscataway, N.J.- The former was statistically authoritative and ultimately breezy. The latter was cringe-inducing and mythically epic.

Both of the installments of Saturday’s visit to the Rutgers Softball Complex involved the Friars veiling a quaky defense. First, top hurler Danielle Bertollette stuffed up three unstable innings while her teammates proceeded to shower on the hits towards a 7-1 victory.

The second game had an ominous start as Jennifer Maccio found herself in a 3-1 deficit through one inning, part of it attributable to two PC errors (by day’s end, the Friars had a two-game total of five blunders). But like Bertollette before her, Maccio recompensed. Heavily helping her own cause with two credited put-outs and five assists, she held the Scarlet Knights scoreless even as they snuck in at least one hit for every inning but the seventh.

By that point, Providence had inched its way back against the unyielding Rutgers starter Crissy Yard. Trailing 3-2 with three outs to work with, they launched a decisive offensive towards a 6-3 victory, sweeping the set and improving to 6-6 in conference action.

Yard, who had only allowed one run in the first and fourth while stamping 1-2-3 ventures in the second, third, and fifth, went all roly-poly when it came time to wrap things up. Julie Fowler brought Samantha Pittmann home from third to knot things up and hustled to second when Katelyn Revens bunted her way to first.

Yard’s crumbling process explicitly surfaced when a wild pitch to Jen Garcia put both runners in scoring position. And by the time Garcia had hit a productive fly to Amanda Heller in right and PC’s top slugger Mary Rose Sheehy cleared things up with a home run, the score was solidified and Yard’s once-fail-safe complete game was cut off by 1/3 of an inning.

Nicole Lindley, who took the bulk of PC’s punishment in Game 1, finished the top half of the inning before Maccio wrapped up her less likely CG, even after leadoff Malory Miller tiptoed to third on an error, a sac grounder, and a wild pitch. She would be stranded when Mandy Craig, already 2-for-2 with two RBI on the game, flew out to Gina Rossi in left.

To start their go-around with Maccio (now 8-5 overall this season), the Knights made a burning point of doing what they couldn’t do in Game 1 to her cut-above colleague Bertollette: cash in when the ball got buttery.

Maccio issued a leadoff walk to Amanda Shaw , who completed the tour home on a Mallory Miller single to left and an error on the part of Revens at third, which put Kate Valiante on first and Miller at second. Both of those runners inched into scoring position on a wild pitch against Craig who knocked them both home and then took a free ride to second on Justine Stratton’s misfire out of right, officially branded the Friars’ second error of the inning.

In the next two innings, Maccio virtually laid out and singlehandedly escaped from her own muddle. With two on and one away in the second, she zapped a liner by Heller and thrust it to first for a spontaneous double-play. In the third, she cut down Miller by handing a Craig grounder over to Revens before Kim Hodges grounded to third, pacifying another red scare.

Meanwhile, PC’s bat rack –which, Jen Garcia’s first inning bomber aside, took the first three innings to recuperate from its indulgent Game 1 scoring spree- thawed out in the fourth for its first legitimate threat against Yard. Leading off, Sheehy –who at day’s end was tops in the Big East with a .404 batting average- doubled to right center and Christy Becker singled to place runners at the corners. Stratton’s sac fly to left field brought Sheehy home to cut the deficit to 3-2, but Pittmann grounded out to end the round.

The Friars spilled a glowing opportunity to pull ahead in the sixth when Yard, in regular Maccio fashion, snared Rossi’s grounder and turned to first for the second out, placing the likes of Sheehy and Becker in scoring position. But Stratton flew out to left for the third out, forcing PC to save its epic juice for the final inning, wherein Yard would double her hit count from four to eight and bloat her batters-faced total from 23 to 31.

Game 1: Through the completion of Game 1, the Friars had stamped the first half of their Big East schedule and replenished the strength of their record with a fourth straight intra-league triumph.

Bertollette, who bulked up her record to 11-8 in her team-leading ninth complete game on the year, breezed through the fifth and sixth innings after Rutgers put her through a flustering tangle in the previous three frames. Over the second, third, and fourth, Bertollette admitted half of 18 faced batters to the bags, two of them hit batsmen, five on singles, and another a run-scoring double by Craig in the second, which halved the Friar lead to 2-1.

Otherwise, the Providence defense had their unflagging hurler’s back, restricting the salivating Knights to that single run. Two batters after Craig, with the sacks juiced, Bertollette foiled Kim Hodges’ scoring attempt from third by tossing a grounder right back to catcher Teresa Bertels.

In the third, Rutgers threatened with the same royal flush laid out with one out before Hodges chopped on to shortstop Jenna Garcia. Garcia likewise cut down aspirant scorer Amanda Heller –the only Knight who hit Bertollette twice on the game.

The Friars –who in the first had sculpted the initial 2-0 lead on a two-out passed ball break and Justine Stratton’s follow-up single- similarly tormented the Knights fielding, but left their next four potential scorers stranded, even whilst chunking the Rutgers starter Lindley on six hits.

But PC perked back up in the fourth after a throwing error and a sacrifice bunt by Fowler inched both Samantha Pittmann and Bertels to scoring position, a savory setup for Revens’ single and Garcia’s two-run double after Reven took the liberty to steal second.

By her day’s end, briefly paused in the fourth in favor of Katye Hamlin, Lindley had allowed all seven Friar runs (two of them unearned) on 14 hits, three of them two-baggers.

Bertollette stabbed the scarlet tempest for the final three innings, save for a leadoff single in the seventh by Shaw. Shaw would shuffle to second on Miller’s sacrifice effort but was left stranded when Revens stamped the final out on a line drive to third.