Softball Splits NEC Doubleheader With Robert Morris

HAMDEN, Conn. - Freshman Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) hit her first homerun of the season to help lead her team to a game-one victory as the Quinnipiac University softball team split a Northeast Conference doubleheader with Robert Morris this afternoon. Alba's homerun was the only run of the first game, earning the Bobcats a 1-0 victory. The Colonials took game two by a score of 6-5. With the split, Quinnipiac's record now stands at 16-17 on the year with a 3-3 record in conference play. Robert Morris now holds a 15-13 overall record with a 5-2 mark in the NEC.

It was the pitching that dominated the action of game one, as the Colonials started sophomore Alexa Bryson against Bobcats' senior Emily Bellush (Newton, Mass.). Robert Morris outhit Quinnipiac in the first game, but their four hits came in four different innings and didn't drive any runners across the plate.

It was Alba's homerun in the bottom of the fourth that finally put a run up on the board in favor of Quinnipiac. The freshman stepped to the plate with two outs on the board and drove the ball clear over the left field fence for her first homer in a Bobcats uniform. Bellush picked up the other hit for Quinnipiac in game one, singling to shortstop in the bottom of the second.

Sophomore RHP Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) came in for relief in the top of the fifth and forced a one-two-three inning for the Colonials to instill the Bobcats' momentum. Schwartzburg finished the first game with five strikeouts, while allowing just one hit in nine batters faced. Bellush allowed three hits in her four innings pitched, and struck out one in 15 batters faced.

Game two held more of an offensive tone, with Robert Morris scoring back-to-back runs in the third and fourth innings. Senior Megan Picinic opened up the Colonials' scoring in the top of the third with a solo homerun to center field. Junior Annie Dubovec followed suit in the fourth with a solo shot of her own, boosting the lead to 2-0.

The Bobcats wouldn't go down without a fight, however, and scored their own run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead in half. Senior Kelly Wall (Westport, Conn.) sparked the lineup with a single into left field to start the inning. After she was advanced to second and third on infield groundouts, Wall was driven home on an Alex Murray (Milford, Mass.) single through the right side to put Quinnipiac on the board.

Wall garnered the lead for the Bobcats in the bottom of the fifth, coming to the plate with seniors Bellush and Katie Allendorfer (Glenside, Pa.) in scoring position with two outs on the board. Wall blooped a single into shallow centerfield to score the runners from second and third to put Quinnipiac up, 3-2, heading into the sixth.

Robert Morris' home run rally wasn't finished yet, as the Colonials loaded the bases in the top of the sixth with freshman Britta Grafton coming to the plate. Grafton entered the doubleheader batting .500 with the bases loaded and boosted that average as she blasted a grand slam to left field to claim the 6-3 lead.

Quinnipiac rounded the bases twice more in the bottom of the sixth to finalize the 6-5 score in game two. Angela Casella (Oceanside, N.Y.) and Murray tallied back-to-back singles to open the inning, and both runners were advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) in the following play. Allendorfer scored Casella from third on a sacrifice fly to center, and Murray followed in the next play on an infielder error. Junior Kim Brzezinski (Tinley Park, Illinois) collected the final hit of the day in the bottom of the seventh when she singled through the right side.

Schwartzburg threw 5.1 innings in game two for the Bobcats, with Bellush coming in for 1.2 innings of relief. Schwartzburg struck out six in the loss, allowing five runs on four hits. Bellush struck out two in the relief effort.

Quinnipiac returns to action tomorrow afternoon in their second conference doubleheader of the weekend. The Bobcats will host St. Francis (PA) at 12 p.m. at the Quinnipiac Softball Field.