SFTBL: ‘Cats do battle in Florida tourneys

Allison Venella

The softball team returned to campus late last weekend, after being away for just under two weeks. During that two-week period, ‘Nova competed in 18 games. The team currently sits with a record of 11-7 and is off to a start that predicts only good things to come.

During the team’s first weekend away this spring, Villanova traveled to Orlando, Fla., to compete at the University of Central Florida Tournament. The Wildcats opened the season with a huge win over Alabama State, crushing their opponents 10-0. This win marked the third season in a row that Villanova started with a win.

In the game, Villanova’s hits came from the whole lineup and proved to be too much for the other team to handle. Junior Jessica Curtis went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, sophomore Meghan Morese drove in three runs, and freshman Jessica O’Boyle went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Outstanding pitching by sophomores Laura Determan and Megan Hord sealed the win for the team.

In its final tournament game at UCF, Villanova matched up against the UCF softball team in a heated battle for the trophy. Villanova came into the game 4-0. Determan pitched the whole game for the Wildcats, giving up no runs and striking out seven.

The lone run of the game came from senior captain Cassie Koenig. Koenig reached base early in the game with a single and was advanced to second by Morese’s single. After an error by UCF, Koenig scored, giving the Wildcats the lead. The early run proved to be important, as it was the only run scored in the game. Villanova took home the trophy, beating UCF 1-0, and left Florida with a 5-0 record.

Even though the team was stuck in Florida for two extra days after a snowstorm hit Philadelphia, the team got back to ‘Nova just in time to finish midterms and head right back down to Florida to compete in Orlando and Tampa over spring break.

During the first tournament, held in Altamonte Springs, Fla., the team went 2-3. It beat both Eastern Michigan and Holy Cross and lost three tough games against South Alabama, Stetson and Jacksonville State.

In the two wins, pitchers Determan and Nicci Ward had outstanding performances on the mound, while the ‘Nova offense went to work at the plate. Morese, as well as senior co-captains Sheri Donley and Koenig led the team on both defense and offense.

After leaving Altamonte Springs, the team had two warm and sunny days off in Florida before returning to action against Central Michigan in a double header. Even though the team went 1-1, one highlight of the games included Morese’s bomb shot over the left field fence in a walk-off grand slam to end the first game. Villanova beat Central Michigan 13-4 in the first game and then fell in the second game, losing 11-3.

The next day, the team started tournament play at the Adidas Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. Villanova went 3-3 over the next four days, recording excellent defensive and offensive performances. Koenig continued her 13-game hitting streak in the early games of the weekend, and junior Carolyn Brown made awesome diving plays in the outfield, taking away a would-be home run with a catch made at the fence against NC State.

The Wildcats beat Long Island University, Mercer and Michigan State, but fell to NC State, Chattanooga and Virginia Tech in hard-fought losses.

Koenig summed up the entire spring break trip.

“We ended with a record of 11-7, but we accomplished a lot as a team,” she said. “We discovered what we can do as a team and realized that we can play with the big schools. Coming off of a huge win against Michigan State and a close, tough loss to Virginia Tech will give us a lot of confidence for our upcoming season.”

After a very long and productive two-week period, the Wildcats return to Villanova with a winning record, ready to recover from the excitement of the spring break tournament and get back to practice to continue working on the strengths of its game.

“After our long week of games and travel, we are focused on getting our team rested and healed,” Koenig said. “We had quite a few injuries, and this week will be used to sharpen our skills and rest our bodies before we start playing again next week.”

The softball team will next compete at the Rider University Tournament on March 24 and then returns for its home opener with a doubleheader against Towson on March 27.