Freshmen, Carlson lead Wildcats to 32-8 record

Justin Adamshick

Villanova’s softball team knew it was getting some talented pitchers in the freshmen class. It’s the utter dominance that these freshmen have exhibited which has been the most exciting and pleasant surprise for the squad thus far this year. Shannon Williams, Kristen Haynes and Kari Koller formed a formidable trio that did not allow a single earned run in a doubleheader against LaSalle on Tuesday.

Williams and Koller combined on a four-hit, 4-0 Villanova shutout win in game one of the twinbill. However, Villanova dropped a tough 1-0 decision to the Explorers in the nightcap, despite a complete game four-hitter from Haynes on the mound.

In game one, the Wildcats showed their visiting cross-town rivals that they were ready to play by scoring two runs each in the second and third innings. Senior first baseman Heather Garboden engineered the hot start by Villanova with a double to left centerfield to start the inning. Krissy Yauch followed with an infield single before Kristen Strait got Villanova on the board with an RBI single. Later in the inning, Kriste Romano knocked in Yauch with a sacrifice fly to center field to put Villanova up by two runs.

It was more of the same in the third inning for Villanova as Robin Flier ripped a triple to lead off the inning. Sara Carlson drew a walk and then alertly broke for second base, inducing an attempted throw to second. This allowed Flier to scurry home and put Villanova up 3-0. Carlson was rewarded for her aggressive and smart base running by eventually scoring later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Garboden.

After the scorching start by the Wildcats it looked like the rout was on. However, LaSalle calmed the Villanova bats with solid pitching for the remainder of the afternoon, holding them scoreless for the rest of game one, as well as the duration of game two.

Williams and Koller didn’t need any extra help as the tandem struck out four batters each in the opener. Williams started and went four innings, giving up just three hits to improve her record to an impressive 10-1 mark. Koller earned her first career save by pitching the final three innings scoreless, giving up one hit and one walk. Villanova managed nine hits against LaSalle starter Gina Madaline and only struck out one time against her.

Winter Eastmond had half of the Explorer’s four hits, while Villanova was led at the plate by Garboden and Strait. Garboden went 2-2 with a run scored and an RBI, while Strait was 2-3 with an RBI. In addition to the extra-base hits by Flier and Garboden, Sarah Wall and Ricci Lugo each cracked doubles in the first game of the contest.

Villanova was not nearly as successful at the plate in game two as they only could muster up six hits against Explorer pitcher Ali Wood. Villanova put the ball in play, as Wood only had two strikeouts. However, LaSalle did an impeccable job behind Wood in the field and helped her achieve the complete game 1-0 shutout win.

Villanova unfortunately wasted a gem of a pitching outing by Haynes, who allowed only four hits and didn’t walk a single batter, while striking out three. Worse yet, the Wildcats uncharacteristically committed a fielding error that allowed LaSalle to score the only run of the game. The disappointment was obvious in the loss, considering LaSalle entered the doubleheader with a dismal 9-26.

However, the Wildcats are still looking very strong and are still in single digits in the loss column. Sara Carlson, who had two hits in game two against LaSalle, was named the Big East Player of the Week last week in large part due to her clutch performance in an extremely important road sweep of Virginia Tech. Carlson was 5-for-6 in the doubleheader against the Hokies with two RBI and two runs scored. Carlson’s .517 batting average last week is out of this world and she also rocked six doubles, scored nine runs and compiled six RBI.

Villanova boasts a remarkable record of 32-8 on the season, and can look ahead to key Big East match-ups on the road against Seton Hall and St. John’s this weekend. At this critical juncture in the season, Villanova is in good hands with the hot bat of Carlson and the firearms of the pitching staff, which should lead to many more wins along the road to the postseason.