April 14, 2013

Clutch Hitting Once Again Lifts Softball to Sweep of Sacred Heart; Push Winning Streak to Seven Games

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Game One Box Score (W, 6-0)
Game Two Box Score (W, 4-3)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Quinnipiac softball team continued their magical run as they pushed their winning streak to seven games with a pair of victories over Sacred Heart, 6-0 and 4-3, on Sunday from Pioneer Park. The Bobcats were on the ropes once again, down 3-0 heading into the sixth in game two, but two runs in each of the closing innings pushed them ahead for their fourth come-from-behind victory during the seven-game winning streak. Quinnipiac improves their record to 14-23 while their NEC mark moves to 7-3, good for fourth place in the conference standings.

The Bobcat freshmen dominated the day as the slight, 5'3 Abby Johnson (Chelmsford, Mass.) slugged her first career home run, a three-run shot in the first game. On the mound in game one, freshman Nicole Gubellini (Salem, N.H.) worked in and out of trouble all day but finished her 5.2 innings with no runs allowed. Gubellini picked up her second victory of the season and first in NEC play. It wasn't easy as she allowed 10 walks but kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard and gave up just three hits in her 5.2 innings.

Game two featured the impressive play of sophomores Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.), Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) and Hannah Lindsley (Narragansett, R.I.). Paolucci went deep for the 10th time this season and she continues to lead the NEC in home runs and RBI (36) this season. Barba went 4-for-7 on the afternoon with two doubles as she increases her season total to 12 two-base hits. Lindsley relieved freshman starter Sydney Robey (Glenmoore, Pa.) in the fourth and allowed just one run in four innings to pick up her fifth victory of the season.

The thrilling day of action for the Bobcats began in game one as they shutout the Pioneers, 6-0. Facing one of the NEC's top pitchers in Nicole Sidor, Quinnipiac wasn't fazed as they generated four hits, four runs and three walks with no strikeouts against the Sacred Heart ace who came in with the second-lowest ERA (1.67) and third-most innings (129.2) and strikeouts (124) of any pitcher in the conference.

The scoring started in the second inning as senior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) and junior Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) both walked and with two outs, Johnson took the Sidor offering deep for her first career homer. The three-run shot gave her team the early lead, an advantage they would never relinquish as Gubellini showed great moxie in the third as she induced a lineout after loading the bases with two outs.

Quinnipiac added another run in the third as senior Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a fielder's choice out and was driven in on an RBI single from Barba to make it a 4-0 game.

Robey entered the game for Gubellini in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and runners on first and second. The freshman worked the count full before the batter popped out to the shortstop to end the threat.

Barba again initiated the Bobcat offense with a double in the seventh and was followed by Paolucci who singled to put two runners on. Sophomore Brittney Cyr (Southington, Conn.) pinch ran for Paolucci and forced in a run with her speed as she stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error from the catcher while Barba walked in from third on the play. Another insurance run was added as Figmic singled home Cyr from third to finish off the scoring with the Quinnipiac win, 6-0.

The second game went down to the wire as the Bobcats pulled out another miraculous come-from-behind victory in the sixth and seventh innings, their fourth such feat in the seven-game winning streak.

Adrianna Mallory started for Sacred Heart and was dominate early, allowing just one hit through the first five frames.  The Pioneers broke through with an RBI single from Sidor in the first inning and another run came across in the third on a wild pitch to push the score to 2-0. Sidor again helped push across another tally in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 in favor of Sacred Heart heading into the sixth.

The feverish Quinnipiac rally started with two outs in the sixth as Barba doubled for the first Bobcat hit since the second inning. Paolucci then took a 0-1 offering from Mallory over the left center field fence for the first Bobcat runs of the day. Paolucci continues to lead the NEC in home runs (10) and RBI (36) as the two-run blast is the 25th of her career, good for second place on the Quinnipiac all-time leaderboard.

Lindsley kept her team in the game as she kept two Pioneer runners stranded in scoring position with a strikeout after a six-pitch battle with Kate Nadler.

The decisive inning came in the top of the seventh as the frame began with a single from senior Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.) but two quick outs followed to set the stage for freshman Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa.).  The Bobcat's leadoff hitter didn't wait long as she took the first pitch and doubled to left field that scored Kesses and tied the score. Still with Solt on second, the Bobcats weren't done as Salgado came through with the go-ahead RBI single to left field.

Lindsley came on in the bottom of the seventh to close the door on the Bobcats' fourth victory in two days as the team earned the four-game NEC road weekend sweep and keep hold of the fourth spot in the conference standings heading into the week as they will take on non-conference foes Fairfield at home on Tuesday at 3:30 pm and travel to Harvard for a doubleheader on Thursday.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu