Softball Beats UPenn, Sweeps Georgetown


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Paige Rauch (above) earned two wins throughout the week.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Villanova softball faced the University of Pennsylvania on the road, where the team started the week strong with an 8-2 victory over the Quakers. Traveling out of the city and back to their home stadium, the Wildcats faced their Big East competitors, the Georgetown Hoyas, resulting in a clean 3-0 sweep over the weekend. This was the team’s first all-winning week since the start of conference play, and its efforts have now produced a five-game winning streak. 

As the season has progressed, graduates Paige Rauch and Angela Giampolo have been showing up more and more behind the plate, and Wednesday’s matchup against UPenn was no different. Rauch and Giampolo became the second pair of teammates in Villanova softball history to each hit multiple home runs in the same game. Their stellar offensive performances combined for four out of Villanova’s five home runs, and both of the graduates hit their first home runs in the opening inning. Rauch’s hit was a solo homer, far past center field to put the Wildcats on the board. Giampolo followed with a homer to left-center field with two teammates on base, resulting in three RBIs and a 4-0 lead after the first inning, giving them strong momentum for the remainder of the game. 

In the bottom of the third inning, UPenn made it on the board with an unearned run, but Giampolo responded in the way she does best, with her bat, leading off the fourth inning with a hard-hit home run over the left field fence. In the top of the fifth inning, Rauch tripled with one 

out, becoming Villanova’s second player ever to have two home runs and a triple in the same game and Villanova’s fourth player to accumulate a total of 11 bases in a single game. In the top of the seventh inning, freshman Ava Franz also hit a home run, going back to back with Rauch to give Villanova its final two runs. Having such stellar performances offensively from graduate students and freshmen is a perfect testament to what makes this team so dangerous — its depth. 

Taking this energy from an electric road win, the women were more than ready to reenter Big East play. Starting off on Friday, Villanova outscored Georgetown, 7-1, and amassed a total 11 hits compared to the Hoyas’ three. Senior Ryan Henry got the game started behind the plate with a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the second inning. Throughout the match up, Henry drove in three runs, two being from her home run and the third on a sacrifice fly. Junior third baseman Chloe Smith stood out as she went three-for-four with a run scored. Freshman right fielder Kelsey White contributed two key hits and an RBI. This age diversity further proves the point started on Wednesday: the Wildcats have range. Beyond the stellar offensive performance, Rauch more than held down the fort behind the mound by pitching a three-hitter with eleven total strikeouts, marking the veteran’s fifth win in her last six starts.

Day two of the conference series carried special meaning for the Wildcats as it marked the team’s Senior Day. With the spotlight shining on the graduating class of 2022, Villanova had even more to play for, and it did not disappoint. All five of the seniors, outfielder Erin Gray, center fielder Sydney Hayes, catcher Henry, pitcher Sara Kennedy and shortstop Megan Kern, were honored in a pre-game ceremony and played in the matchup. Giampolo and Rauch were also recognized in the day’s festivities as this is the final season of their collegiate eligibility. The game itself was exciting as the Wildcats reached another game totalling hits in the double digits. Kern and Henry led the squad offensively with a combined four extra-base hits and five runs batted in. Ending in an 8-2 decision, the Wildcats went into Sunday hungry to put a sweep in the books. 

In seven hard fought innings, the team did just that. Matching Georgetown with five runs each, the Wildcats were neck and neck with the Hoyas for the majority of Sunday’s match up. Villanova found an early lead by scoring its first three runs in the bottom of the first inning. However, Georgetown fought back and earned runs in the fourth and sixth innings to bring the game to a close score. Rauch and Henry sealed the deal in the bottom of the sixth inning with game defining home run hits. First, Henry extended the Wildcat lead to 6-2 with a hard hit ball to right-center field. Responding almost immediately, Rauch followed suit with a homer of her own. This hit was more than a regular home run, as it tied Rauch for Villanova’s all-time record for career runs scored, but Rauch’s offensive performance wasn’t her most impressive of the day as the graduate pitched a five-hitter, sealing the deal on the day’s win. 

Looking ahead into next week, the team is set to hit the road to play another Big East competitor Creighton. Over the past two weeks, Villanova softball has clicked into place, putting the team in position to be a true threat to all competitors, specifically in conference play, and defend its title of Big East champions.