Softball Falls to 3-7 on the Season


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Megan Kern (above) hit a three-run go ahead homer in the team’s sole win of the weekend.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

This past weekend, Villanova traveled to Gainesville, Florida, to compete in the T-Mobile Tournament against tough competitors. The team played five games from Friday to Saturday, winning only one of the five games. On Friday the Wildcats played Louisville, which ended in a 10-7 loss, and Duke, which ended in a 4-2 loss. On Saturday, the team beat Florida A&M, 6-2, and later lost to Florida, 4-0. Finally, on Sunday, the team lost again to Louisville, 3-2. 

Coming off an opening weekend 2-3 performance in Atlanta, Georgia, the Wildcats have found themselves in a bit of trouble playing such high level competition early in the season. Duke, for example, entered the 2022 season ranked number 14 in the nation, and its other ACC competitor Louisville entered the season with a strong roster. However, most notably, tournament host Florida finished last season fifth in the nation, continually proving itself to be a difficult competitor from the SEC. 

Heading into the first game Friday morning, the Wildcats knew they needed to stay persistent against the Cardinals and did just that. Villanova rallied to tie the score on three separate occasions throughout the nine-inning ballgame. A major factor in the loss was that the team was forced to play catch-up from the first inning and found itself in 4-0, 6-2 and 7-6 deficits. Notable moments in the matchup came from sophomore Tess Cites, who went two-for-four and hit her second home run of the season. Graduate student Angela Giampolo and senior Megan Kern had two hits each. 

Later that afternoon, Villanova found a few personal bests from players but ultimately fell short to Duke. Junior Chloe Smith played a strong offensive game for the Wildcats after she came in to pinch-hit with two outs in the fifth inning. She drove in two runs late in the game that ultimately helped the Wildcats close the gap between them and the Blue Devils, but it was not enough to secure a win. Sophomore Caroline Pellicano pitched three scoreless innings of relief, particularly escaping a bases-loaded no one out scenario in the fourth inning.

On Saturday, the Wildcats secured their first and only win of the weekend. The Wildcats scored six unanswered runs and stormed past the Rattlers after the third inning. Notably, senior Megan Kern hit a go-ahead three-run homer in this third inning to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead. Also performing very well offensively, Cites recorded her first stolen base of the year, and senior Ryan Henry went two-for-three raising her batting average to .409. Beyond a clean offensive performance, graduate student Paige Rauch showed out on the mound. The star pitcher only allowed two earned runs on seven hits during her five-inning stretch. Senior Sara Kennedy relieved Rauch and pitched two scoreless innings to preserve the win. 

Later that afternoon, Villanova faced an undefeated Florida team. This game was Pellicano’s first-ever collegiate start and, although she finished with a loss, the sophomore more than held her own against such a softball powerhouse, only giving up two earned runs over six innings. Kern and junior Victoria Sebastian each singled for Villanova. Florida scored two runs in the first two innings but was stopped promptly by Pellicano, who generated 13 of her 18 outs on the ground, along with yielding only three hits without a walk or a run scored in her final four innings pitched. The Wildcats showed poise defensively as they held a very good Florida team to only four runs.

Finally, Villanova fell to Louisville a second time Sunday morning in a closer matchup than the game on Friday. Rauch hit a bomb in the eighth inning for her first home run of the season to drive in the first runs of the game. In a competitive and tight defensive matchup, freshman Kelsey White carried this shutout through the first seven innings in only her second collegiate start. Up 2-0 in the eighth, Villanova gave up three runs in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Cardinals the walk-off victory.

Next weekend, the Wildcats travel to North Carolina to play Gardner-Webb, East Carolina and Fairleigh Dickinson in the Pirate Invitational. Closing off this weekend with a 3-7 record, the team is hoping to pick up some more wins against some lower-ranked teams.