Softball Sweeps Creighton in Home Opening Series


Brian Luppy/Villanovan Photography

Softball swept Creighton on home turf this weekend.

Katie Lewis, Staff Writer

Villanova’s softball team came out strong at this weekend’s home opening series against Creighton, sweeping the Big East adversary, 3–0. 

The Wildcats, with a 13–13 overall record and 5–1 conference mark, rose to second place in the Big East. 

Following a schedule change due to cold weather forecasts for Sunday, Friday’s matchup became a double-header as the Wildcats took the home field. 

In the first game of the weekend, Villanova came out on top, 4–3. 

Freshman Kat Gallant pitched a complete game, holding back the Bluejays with five strikeouts and allowing just two earned runs and one walk. 

The Wildcats took a 1–0 lead in the second inning when sophomore outfielder Kelsey White blasted her first home run of the season. The following inning, Villanova took advantage of a Creighton error after a hit by senior third baseman Chloe Smith, to score another run. 

Trouble arrived for the Wildcats when the Bluejays gained a 3–2 edge with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, home run in the sixth and an RBI double in the seventh. 

However, in the seventh, Smith smashed a home run to tie the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, sophomore infielder Ava Franz delivered the game-winning single for a walk-off Wildcat victory. 

The second half of Friday’s double-header featured another successful Villanova comeback for a higher-scoring, 8–7 win. 

Graduate pitcher Peyton Schnackenberg was the Wildcats’ starter, facing nine batters and striking out one. White relieved and pitched the next five innings, striking out three and giving up four runs. 

Creighton achieved an early 1–0 advantage after the first three batters, rising to 4–0 in the fourth inning. 

The Wildcats then loaded the bases in the fifth, after center fielder Tess Cites hit a double and Creighton walked the following two batters. A wild pitch sent Cites home to get Villanova on the board. 

In the top of the sixth, the Bluejays notched a three-run homer for a 7–1 lead. However, the Wildcats made an impressive seven-run comeback in the bottom of the inning. 

Bats were hot across the lineup, with Franz and senior catcher Ally Jones each getting on base with a single, and graduate catcher Ryan Henry hitting a double to earn two Villanova RBIs. 

Cites hit a single to bring home two more runners, and a double by White into left field brought the score even. 

Following a walk and wild pitch by Creighton, White scored from third on a sacrifice fly from freshman shortstop Lilly St. Jean. The Bluejays failed to retrieve their lead in the scoreless final inning, securing a second Wildcat win. 

Villanova took the field with confidence the next morning, for the third game against Creighton and finished the series with a 10–4 victory. 

Gallant returned to the mound as the Bluejays came out strong with three singles and two doubles in the first six batters. 

The freshman pitcher regained control, holding Creighton back with three strikeouts and allowing seven hits and three earned runs in five total innings. Schnackenberg relieved, only surrendering one single in seven batters in the final two innings. 

Batters up and down the lineup contributed to the Wildcats’ offense. 

Following Creighton’s early, 3–0 lead, Villanova fought back, scoring in every inning of the game. Creighton added their last run of the game in the third inning, advancing runners from a hit-by-pitch and Villanova outfield error for a 4–3 lead. 

In the bottom of the inning, the Wildcats shifted the momentum of the game by adding four runs with Smith, White and Jones each notching a hit to load the bases. A Creighton pitching error, single from Henry, and RBI from senior first baseman Victoria Sebastian, brought the runners home. 

The strong batting continued in the fourth inning, with another single from Jones and a double from Franz. In the fifth, senior outfielder Dani Dabroski muscled a triple to score senior outfielder Sydney Hayes. 

Put on base by a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, White scored the Wildcats’ tenth and final run after a sacrifice fly from Jones and single from Franz. 

“The experience with playing some tough teams and getting beat down a little in the preseason, prepared us well and gave us a push to know that we can come back,” head coach Bridget Orchard said. “Hopefully we can keep the energy and ride that confidence going into the next series.” 

With a two-week break from conference play, the Wildcats will be on the road again this week to take on Towson, Delaware and Boston University. 

“Our goal is to win each series, and right now we are sitting in a pretty good position,” Orchard said. 

The Wildcats anticipate their upcoming series against Big East rival UConn, which will take place at home on the weekend of March 31.