Baseball and Softball Open Season in Florida


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Baseball and Softball Open Season in Florida

Addison Drone

This weekend, Villanova University’s Baseball and Softball seasons opened up their respective seasons in Florida. Softball compiled a 3-2 record while the baseball team was winless in its three contests. 

In the baseball team’s opening matchup against Pittsburgh, a 7-2 loss, third baseman John Heilenbach hit his first collegiate home run, and left fielder Chris Rotondo tallied six total bases with a three-hit game. Senior Jonathan Rosero got the start for the Wildcats and threw four-plus innings, allowing four runs while racking up three strikeouts. 

Although the Wildcats were edged by Milwaukee 7-4 on Saturday, middle infielder Pat O’Neill picked up hit a pair of doubles, reached base two more times, and scored in a seventh-inning rally. After falling behind early 5-0, Villanova cut the deficit to two in the seventh with run-scoring hits from JP Radvany, Tyler Bruno and Ryan Toohers. 

Jimmy Kingsbury got the start, pitching four innings and giving up five runs. Reliever Jason Applegate finished the fifth inning and threw two more scoreless frames before Jake Esp took over. 

In the Wildcats’ final game of the weekend, freshman Gordon Graceffo got his first start, pitching four innings in a 12-5 loss to George Mason. On the offensive side, freshman shortstop Dylan McNary had four hits, and Nick Lorusso knocked in two runs. During the weekend, Chris Rotondo led the Wildcats with six hits, but the pitching staff struggled with walks, giving up 33 free bases across the three games.

The softball team was led by Paige Rauch, who had a 1.21 ERA in three appearances and hit three home runs in the five games. The transfer student threw a complete game two-hitter in the team’s opening matchup Friday, a 4-2 win over Iowa, and a great way to start of new head coach Bridget Orchard’s tenure. 

In the second game of the day, Villanova fell, 7-0, against Missouri. They struggled offensively, mustering only three hits. 

However, the Wildcats prevailed in their next matchup against LIU Brooklyn, topping the Blackbirds, 9-3. On the bump, Rauch and Kalee Smith combined to pitch a great game, giving up seven hits and a lone walk. Villanova put up five runs in the second inning. 

Center fielder, Megan Ruiz, scored after a throwing error on LIU Brooklyn catcher, Samantha Garcia. Soon after, Sydney Hayes had an RBI double, and Rauch hit her first of two home runs to bring in another three. 

In the afternoon, the Wildcats dropped their game against Stetson, 8-3. After three scoreless innings from pitcher Jordan Olivarez, Stetson put up eight runs in the fourth, and, although the team was able to chip away, it was not enough. In the bottom of the inning catcher Jordan Olivarez homered, and first baseman Julia DaCosta would drive in two more with a seventh-inning triple. 

In the final game of the weekend, the team’s bats came alive for an 8-1 victory over Bethune-Cookman. Rauch’s dominant performance on the hill was supported by multi-hit games by third baseman Olivia Laqua and Jordan Olivarez. LaQua and left fielder Caroline Jones both homered as the Wildcats ended their weekend on a high note. 

Next weekend, the baseball team will head to the University of Virginia for a three game series as they look to pick up their first win, and the softball team will travel to Auburn for another slate of games at the Auburn University Tiger Invitational.