Softball split against Cornell

Matthew Clark

By Matthew Clark

Assistant Sports Editor

The Villanova Wildcats (0-0;8-11) split the doubleheader against Cornell (0-0; 6-3) on opening day, March 14.

The ‘Cats took an early lead in the bottom of the first of game one thanks to back-to-back singles by Kristen Yauch and Robin Flier. That set up a sacrifice bunt situation for Ricci Lugo who moved the runners into scoring position. Then Kari Koller’s sacrifice fly gave pitcher Shannon Williams some breathing room.

After that the pitcher’s dual began and both teams were held scoreless until the fourth when Koller reached on an error. Kristin Leese replaced her on the base paths. Leese scored on a base hit by Sarah Ball. Koller struck again in the fifth with an RBI double to bring Flier home and make it a 3-0 game.

Kristen Hayes was brought in to save the game in the fifth to only have Kristen Strait solidify the win and take the pressure off by knocking a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away. Williams got the 5-1 decision.

The second game didn’t go as smoothly for the Wildcats. Williams started again in the second game, but not for long. She was pulled after an inning of work, giving up five early runs. By the third inning, Villanova was in a 7-1 hole that they couldn’t climb out of; Cornell won 10-1.

Pitching has been Villanova’s largest problem in the young season, and is attributing to the teams inconsistency. Williams currently has a 1.8 ERA, but is second in the Big East with 89 innings pitched.

“We are over working Shannon a little,” coach Maria DiBernardi said. “Softball pitchers can pitch 12-13 innings, but the cold weather here [after playing in Florida] did affect her in game two.”

Haynes is the number two pitcher and Koller, the first baseman, came on for relief against Cornell in the second game to add some depth, but that was her only two inning of the season. Haynes is 0-5 on the season with only one save. Freshman Tiffany Ross has given up five runs in six innings of work thus far this season.

“We’re going to keep practicing hard and put them in situations for success,” DiBernardi said. “The ability is there but it’s a confidence thing right now.”

Coach DiBernardi also said that their team’s record is not indicative of their success. “I intentionally scheduled a hard first half of the season,” she said. “We are on a mission to make the NCAAs.”

If the team does make the NCAAs they may have a saving grace in April in Krueger. Krueger is currently out of the line up with a broken hand, but after seeing a specialist last week, there is a possibility of her being back sooner than later. She has to go back next week to get it re-evaluated.

Villanova plays another double header at home against Quinnipiac on Saturday at noon.