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Softball Sweeps St. John’s at Home

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
The Wildcats have a 22–17 overall and 13–2 Big East record with last weekend’s sweep of St. John’s.

Coming off a tough series in Omaha that saw Villanova softball suffering its first Big East losses of the season, the ‘Cats aimed to get right back at home against St. John’s. They did just that, sweeping the weekend series by scores of 13–9, 10–1 and 11–5.

“I think it humbled us a little bit,” head coach Bridget Orchard said. “We were 9-0 going into Creighton, and taking two losses I think it was [time to] refocus and lock in and work. They put a lot of work in over the week coming into the St. John’s [series]. We knew that St. John’s had beaten UConn, so we didn’t take them lightly and came out ready to go.”

In the Friday series opener, the Wildcats got on the board first, scratching a run across in the bottom of the first inning when junior right fielder Elaina Wagner’s RBI single scored senior left fielder Tess Cites.

The Red Storm responded with an onslaught. They added two runs in the top of the second on a pair of run-scoring singles, five in the third on a two-run single and a three-run home run, and two more in the fourth on an RBI single and a sacrifice fly. After the top of the fourth inning, they led, 9-1.

The Wildcat offense reignited in the bottom of the fourth, scoring seven runs to pull within one run of St John’s.

Graduate third baseman Chloe Smith scored graduate first baseman Victoria Sebastian on a double to start the inning. Graduate catcher Ally Jones walked with the bases loaded to score Smith. Sophomore second baseman Lilly St. Jean’s two-run single then scored Wagner and freshman center fielder Elizabeth Gray. Senior shortstop Ava Franz knocked in Jones with a single and Sebastian’s RBI single scored St. Jean. 

The ‘Cats’ offense closed the deficit to one by the end of the inning as Franz scored on a St. John’s wild pitch. 

To follow up the monstrous fourth inning, Villanova added another five runs in the fifth to take the lead, ultimately for good. St. Jean’s two-run double scored Cites and Gray and was followed up by Franz’s three-run homer that knocked in St. Jean and Jones.

The 13-9 score after the fifth inning would hold as the final.

For the Wildcats, senior pitcher Caroline Pellicano recorded the win, pitching the final three innings in scoreless relief. She scattered just two hits and one walk while striking out a pair of batters. 

In the Saturday game, Villanova jumped on St. John’s in the first inning with five runs when Wagner scored Cites on an RBI single and was brought home on Jones’ two-run homer. Franz rounded out the inning on a two-run round-tripper that scored St. Jean.

Both offenses went silent until the fourth inning when St. John’s scored their first run of the game on a bases-loaded walk. 

The Wildcats quickly snuffed out any hope of a St. John’s comeback, adding five more runs in the bottom of the fifth to trigger the mercy rule.

Redshirt junior first baseman Brooklyn Ostrowski clubbed a two-run home run to score Smith. Freshman pinch hitter Maranda Runco then hit a walk-off home run, the first home run of her career, when her two-run round-tripper that scored junior DP Kelsey White ended the game early on the mercy rule.

Villanova sophomore pitcher Kat Gallant recorded the victory by completing four innings of one-run ball, scattering six hits and one walk. She also struck out three batters. 

In the Sunday series finale, St. John’s scored first, adding three runs in the top of the second inning on an RBI single and a pair of RBI doubles.

Villanova answered back to cut the deficit to two in the bottom of the second when White’s double brought in Smith.

The ‘Cats then tied the game in the third when St. Jean crushed a two-run home run to score Jones.

“[St. Jean] was awesome,” Orchard said. “She was clutch. She hit a homer and [came through] in big big situations. Her coming through in the clutch was pretty massive.”

Villanova then ambushed the Red Storm in the fourth, punishing the opposition for six more runs. Gray got the inning started with an RBI single that scored Ostrowski. Cites followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in White. Gray went home on a passed ball.

Later in the inning, Wagner was brought in on Franz’s fielder’s choice and then Smith brought in Franz and Jones with an RBI single.

St. John’s defense fell apart in the bottom of the fifth. The Red Storm second baseman committed an error, allowing Villanova redshirt sophomore pinch runner Alexa Raphael and Cites to score the final runs and trigger the mercy rule. 

For the Wildcats, senior pitcher Alyssa Seidler recorded the win, coming out of the bullpen to pitch three perfect innings, striking out four batters in the process.

“[Seidler] has been huge, really, really big,” Orchard said. “She went from [being a starter early in the season], and then this weekend, we decided to bring her in as a closer, which is kind of a different mindset [that she] had to take on. I thought she did a great job. She was able to start and finish a lot of innings and they didn’t get any hits off of her.”

The Wildcats will travel to Chicago this weekend for a three-game series against DePaul.

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