Softball Goes 2-3 In Opening Weekend


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Victoria Sebastian (above) hit her first career triple in a win over St. Joseph’s.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

Villanova Softball started the season this past week in a packed program, traveling down to Atlanta, Georgia for the Buzz Classic, hosted by Georgia Tech. The team faced three schools in five games, coming out victorious in two. It beat Marshall, 9-1, and lost to Georgia Tech on Friday, 9-2, lost to Marshall, 8-0, and to Georgia Tech on Saturday, 11-0. The team closed with a 7-5 win over Saint Joseph’s on Sunday morning. 

The Wildcats are coming off of a record-breaking season, having won Villanova’s first-ever conference title in 2021, with a record of 37-15 (.712) to record the fourth-highest winning percentage and fifth-most wins in a single season in Villanova history. In regular season Big East play alone, the team went 15-2 (.882) to set another program record for the highest winning percentage in conference games, as well as tying the school record for most Big East wins in a single season. 

Walking onto the field this weekend, Villanova had the title of “Defending Big East champions”  as it started off its busy weekend against Marshall, playing a strong offensive game to lead the Wildcats to their first win in the first ever matchup between the two programs. 

Senior Megan Kern and sophomore Tess Cites each homered, helping the team reach a cumulative nine runs, with Cites recording a career-high three runs scored and junior Chloe Smith driving in two more runs. Offensively, 16 of Villanova’s 29 plate appearances resulted in a hit, walk or hit by pitch. A notable offensive moment in the game came from freshman Alexa Raphael as she entered the game as a pinch runner and stole a base, continuing on to score her first collegiate run in the second inning.

Graduate pitcher Paige Rauch more than held her own on the mound as she pitched a three-hitter with six strikeouts in a five-inning matchup, and junior Dani Dabrowski saved a potentially dangerous hit from Marshall late in the game with a head first diving catch to close it out in the fifth-inning. 

The second game of Friday resulted in a loss to tournament host Georgia Tech. Despite the final score, Villanova had many successes, most notably junior Ally Jones hitting her first home run of the season in the seventh inning. Senior Ryan Henry also had a day, going three-for-five in both games on Friday. Senior Sara Kennedy pitched a solid game, scattering three hits and four walks in three innings pitched. 

Saturday was a tough day for the Wildcats, as they fell to both Marshall and Georgia Tech and were held scoreless in both outings. During the Marshall game, Villanova found just three hits throughout the game while Marshall took control early in the game, scoring four first inning runs, building a lead that Villanova was not able to overcome. Later that afternoon, Villanova managed only one hit against Georgia Tech, in the fourth inning from Kern. Rauch started on the mound and pitched 2.2 innings, taking the loss to bring her to a 1-1 record this season. 

However, Villanova finished the weekend on a high note, with a win against Saint Joseph’s on Sunday. The Wildcats’ top five players in the batting order accumulated a combined  nine hits and seven RBIs. After Saint Joseph’s came out hot with three runs in the first inning, Smith hit a two-run single to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Junior Victoria Sebastian was a standout in the middle of the lineup, driving in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning with a deep triple to right field, the first triple of her career. Kern went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Jones had two hits and drove in three runs in the first two innings alone. Notably, freshman pitcher Kelsey White pitched three scoreless innings after relieving Rauch to earn her first collegiate win. 

After ending the weekend with a 2-3 record, Villanova prepares to travel to Gainesville, Florida on Feb. 18 for the T-Mobile Tournament, where it will play five more games against four tough opponents: Louisville (4-1), Duke (4-1), Florida A&M (1-3) and Florida (4-1).