MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Freshman infielder Ashley Pledger got the Screaming Eagles softball season started on a high note, hitting a home run for her first collegiate base hit in a 3-1 victory of game one of a non-conference twinbill with visiting York (N.Y.) and classmate Katrina Kenny struck out five in an 8-0 shutout victory in game two on a sunny, but frigid Saturday afternoon.
After weeks of dodging poor weather and hoping for a window of opportunity, the CSE softball team finally got 2013 underway under first-year head coach Nicole Degenhardt, an assistant on the 2012 squad.
The Screaming Eagles got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning of the first game when senior Kelly O’Dell drew a two-out walk and came around to score when York was unable to catch Alesandria De Sapio’s fly ball into the outfield.
The Cardinals plated the tying run in the top of the third when shortstop Geneva Faulk’s single to center drove home Kimberly Barnes. The damage was limited by the CSE defense who flashed the leather. For the first out of that inning, O’Dell lunged to catch a foul ball and then was nearly upstaged by freshman catcher Jessica Scairpon on the second out. The backstop burst out of her crouch and snared a foul ball just a step from the CSE dugout.
CSE, charged up from its play in the field, came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman shortstop Christina Scolaro beat out an infield single and immediately stole second and third base. O’Dell ripped a hit through the left side of the infield and Scolaro easily scored to put CSE up, 2-1.
CSE senior starting pitcher Catherine Eber ran into some trouble in the fourth when the Cardinals got their first two batters on base. After Eber induced a ground-ball out, she loaded the bases by walking the next York hitter.
Eber helped herself defensively, fielding a squibber back to the circle and threw home to get the second out of the inning. CSE centerfield Noelle Grande tracked down a fly ball for the third out and the Screaming Eagles were out of the jam.
Pledger provided the fireworks in the fifth inning, hammering a pitch deep over the left-field fence for a 3-1 CSE lead. For Pledger, it was quite the introduction into college softball: the home run represented the first base hit of her career.
Eber grinded through seven innings and picked up her first win of the season. Eber (1-0) scattered seven hits while striking out three batters.
Priscilla Lallave suffered the loss for York, despite allowing just three hits while striking out nine batters.
Kenny (1-0) took the ball in the second game for her first collegiate start. The frosh showed little nerves, retiring seven of the first nine batters she faced.
The Screaming Eagles broke through for a pair of runs to back up Kenny in the bottom of the third inning. Kristine Brady-Downs drew a leadoff walk and Grande followed with one of her two hits on the day. After a series of sacrifice bunts, both Brady-Downs and Grande crossed home plate.
Kenny got through the next two innings without allowing another run, even escaping a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth inning by inducing a two-out pop up on the infield.
CSE secured the afternoon sweep by plating three runs in the fourth and fifth inning, highlighted by first baseman Madellyn Rodriguez’s big double to center field.
Kenny allowed just four hits and struck out five batters while allowing just two walks to earn the victory.
O’Dell led the offense with three hits and three stolen bases on the day. Scolaro added four stolen bases and scored twice over the two games.
The Screaming Eagles hit the road for a doubleheader in Philadelphia on Monday, facing off against Cairn (formerly Philadelphia Bible) at 3 p.m. CSE is back home on Wednesday, March 27 with a non-conference doubleheader with Rosemont. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.