Wildcats endure tough losses at Adidas Invite

Michael Zipf

On Thursday March 9, the softball team recorded a 1-0 victory over Northern Illinois in its first game at the Adidas Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, this would be their only victory at the Invitational.

‘Nova competed strongly in all of their games and nearly pulled out a couple of victories. After their victory on Thursday afternoon, the Wildcats fell short against the University of Massachusetts, failing to rally from early deficit and eventually suffering an 11-8 loss. In their first game against Northern Illinois, the Wildcats demonstrated excellent pitching and defense, with sophomore Kat Walsh pitching a no hitter for the Wildcats while striking out nine batters and recording her second win of the season. Sophomore second baseman Jackie Dempsey drove in the game winning (and only) run of the game with an RBI single in the third inning to secure the victory for the ‘Cats.

In the game against UMass, the Wildcats got off to a shaky start when they surrendered three runs in the first inning and one in the third. However, they clawed back into the game during the top of the fourth inning by answering the Minutewomen’s early surge with three runs of their own. Junior shortstop Sheri Donley, sophomore Greta Holmgren and pinch hitter Tessa Paolini drove in the all three runs for the ‘Cats. The Wildcats continued to rally and recorded two more runs in the fifth, but unfortunately were unable to uphold their slim lead. UMass surged back with a seven-run fifth inning to take a commanding 11-5 lead. Although Villanova valiantly fought back scoring three runs in the sixth inning, it was not enough to overcome the deficit.

The Wildcats resumed play at the Adidas Invitational on Friday, March 10 and lost a heartbreaker in extra innings against Jacksonville and dropped a 13-4 decision to Purdue University to bring the Wildcats to a 4-9 season record. In their 2-1 loss against Jacksonville, the game remained scoreless through regulation to force extra innings. During the top of the eighth inning, the Wildcats struck first with a two out RBI single by sophomore outfielder Jessica Curtis. However, in the bottom of the inning the Dolphins managed to record three hits, driving in one run and scored the game winning run on an error to capture the 2-1 victory.

In their game against Purdue, the Wildcats started slowly with freshman pitcher Megan Hord having difficulty finding the strike zone and providing no answer for Purdue’s bats. The Wildcats surrendered seven runs in the first inning, but managed to answer back with one run in the bottom of the inning and two runs in the fourth. Nevertheless, the Wildcats were unable to quiet Purdue’s bats, giving up five runs in the top of the fifth inning. The game ended with Purdue posting a 13-4 victory. Although the Wildcats suffered a tough defeat, there were a few bright spots for the Wildcats with Sheri Donley blasting a long home run to left center and sophomores Lisa Curran and Kayla Felty recording RBI singles.

The Wildcats concluded the Adidas Invitational on Saturday March 11 with losses against Tennessee Tech and Central Michigan. In both games, the Wildcats had difficulty offensively and failed to record key hits and advance runners. After losing their final game of pool play against Tennessee Tech, 1-0, Villanova entered tournament play against Central Michigan, which ended in a 5-0 loss for Villanova. During their first game against Tennessee Tech, the Wildcats received an excellent pitching effort from Kat Walsh, who surrendered only one run while striking out five batters. However, the Wildcats failed to mount anything offensively. They registered only two hits in the final three innings. The two games marked the end of ‘Nova’s spring break trip to Florida.

Although the team faced some tough losses during the Invitational, the players felt the tournament proved to be beneficial.

“Our team hit some bumps during the tournament but overall we were beginning to overcome some of our early season mistakes,” Donley said. “I think our team learned a lot from that tournament.”

The Wildcats now prepare to battle Harvard in their first home doubleheader of the 2006 season Saturday, March 18 at 12 p.m. As the team prepares for this match-up against Harvard, they are concentrating on improving their defense and striving to sharpen up their overall play to try to fulfill their season goal of reaching the Big East Tournament. Despite the rough start, the team feels as though it is steadily improving and are eager to make a second half surge.