Softball Goes 2-2 On the Week


Courtesy of Peter Licopantis/Villanovan Photography

Sara Kennedy (above) came up with two late strikeouts to seal the win against DePaul.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

Villanova softball had a week that can be summed up to one word: perseverance. The Wildcats won their home game on Wednesday against Saint Joseph’s, 7-0. Then, the team traveled to play a weekend Big East series against DePaul. After falling short on Friday (9-1) and Saturday (7-1), the team rallied to end the weekend on an 11-3 win, providing its largest scoring contest of the season. 

At Wednesday’s home game, Villanova played the Hawks and continued its home winning streak. The Wildcats boasted an underclassmen pitching staff with sophomore starter Caroline Pellicano and freshman reliever Kelsey White. The pair worked together to allow only three hits throughout the game, which ultimately led to a shutout. This game brought Pellicano’s ERA to an astounding 0.93. Over her 30 innings pitched this season, the sophomore has allowed just four earned runs. 

Offensively, the Wildcats were forced to be patient as the Hawks’ pitcher walked the first five batters and hit the sixth. After the first out, two more walks allowed for two more runs scored for Villanova before the Hawks brought in some relief pitching. Paige Rauch, who was playing second base, tied her career-high of runs scored with four. Rauch led off the bottom of the second inning with a long home run and later tripled into right field. On her final at-bat of the game, the graduate player singled with one out, bringing her to 3-for-3, one RBI and one walk in the game.

After a solid home win, the Wildcats traveled to Chicago to take on their Big East competitors, the Blue Demons. The team trailed DePaul for the entirety of the match-up and totaled just five hits in comparison to DePaul’s 12. The team had many hard-hit balls in the early innings, none of which went over the fence besides senior catcher Ryan Henry’s home run in the top of the second. Her home run tied up the game at 1-1 entering the third inning. The Wildcats started to gain some momentum offensively in the fifth inning thanks to freshman pinch hitter Amanda DeSantis and junior third baseman Chloe Smith. DeSantis and Smith led off the inning with consecutive singles, but Rauch’s line drive towards the middle of the diamond was caught and converted into a double play to end the inning.

Villanova entered Saturday hopeful and ready to play. But, a third-inning score-fest for the Blue Demons put the Wildcats in a hole they could not climb out of. The first hit of the game for Villanova was in the sixth inning with shortstop Megan Kern’s hard-hit solo home run. This marked the sixth home run of the season for the senior, and it sparked the Wildcats to fight hard in the seventh inning, refusing to go down without a fight. In the top of the seventh, Villanova loaded the bases with nobody out and junior catcher Ally Jones scored on an error. Although ending in a loss, this seventh inning carried into Sunday as the team fought to win the final game of the series.

On Sunday, the Wildcats found that groove in their offense that they seemed to be lacking in the first two games of the series. The bats found a way to connect the best they have all season, and the team accumulated 11 runs on 14 hits. The offense really started to pick up in the fourth inning with a single to left-center field from graduate second baseman Angela Giampolo. Jones responded with one out and drove the ball into left field to bring in the first runs of the game. Senior center fielder Sydney Hayes kept up the momentum with a double to left field and, still, with only one out, junior left fielder Dani Dabroski beat out an infield single. This opened the gates to four straight run-scoring hits that put the Wildcats in a winning position they refused to leave. Smith provided an RBI single, Rauch and Kern hit back-to-back RBI doubles, and White singled to bring the team to a 6-0 advantage. Each player began to feed off of each other and use their momentum to push the lead to greater margins with each hit. 

The Blue Demons responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with two runs, but senior pitcher Sara Kennedy retired the two batters she needed to keep a DePaul runner on third base. In the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Demons reached their closest score, 6-3, with a sacrifice fly, but when the seventh inning started off the same as the fourth with a leadoff single up the middle from Giampolo, the Wildcats were in a great position. Henry and Jones each singled to load the bases with no outs, and the rest of the lineup was ready to score the runners on base. Hayes hit a two-run double to center field, and Smith hit a home run past right field to bring in a total of five runs.

Sunday showed the caliber of gameplay that the team played with last season. As long as this energy and teamwork continue, the team has the potential to grow and improve in both conference and non-conference play. The Wildcats have a short drive this week for a game at UPenn on Wednesday. Next weekend, the Wildcats host Big East foe Georgetown for a three-game series.