Sophomore Kathy Gagne almost pitched the softball team to its first sweep of the Rochester Institute of Technology in recent memory. Instead, she settled for the first win over RIT in four years.
Gagne pitched seven innings of shutout ball, limiting the Tigers to three hits. Senior catcher and co-captain Kristy Krivickas opened the scoring with a single, scoring on a double by freshman shortstop Jess Fanning.
“What she is doing is going into the game mentally prepared to pitch well,” head coach Kris Shanley said. “It doesn’t hurt that she has a great defensive team behind her.”
A four-run fifth inning didn’t hurt her cause either.
Sophomore first baseman Tracy Simon’s fly ball was dropped with the bases loaded, bringing home sophomore outfielder Sara Dial. Nellie Coats hit a base-clearing double to increase the lead to 5-0 and finish the scoring for both teams.
The second game hinged on missed opportunities. Again, Gagne pitched seven innings, only giving up two runs but the UR offense couldn’t catch a break in a 2-1 loss. The Yellowjackets stranded six runners in the game and recorded 10 of 21 fly ball outs.
“It was just a matter of a break here, a hit there, or a right and we could have broke the game open,” Shanley said.
Krivickas took great pride in earning the split with RIT, leaving the team at 5-11 going into today’s action.
“Beating RIT is a huge momentum builder,” she said. “RIT is consistently ranked in the state and is a strong team. This was our first win over them since I’ve been here, so that in and of itself is huge.
“Winning that first game and coming so close to sweeping the proves how solid our team is and how capable we are of competing with any team.”
The double header was UR’s first game in the area all year long, after both home games last week were cancelled due to weather. For a while, there was a question whether the game would even be played Tuesday afternoon. Originally scheduled for RIT, the game’s location was switched to UR after RIT’s field was ruled unplayable.
“It was a great opportunity for us to lose focus,” Shanley said. “It says a lot about our team that didn’t happen.”
Tuesday’s offensive output wouldn’t have been possible without the team’s strong offensive play over the weekend at the Elmira Tournament. While the team did not win the tournament as hoped, it did put forth a strong offensive showing.
In the first game of the tournament, the women lambasted Lehman College 8-0, in another shutout game pitched by Gagne.
Shanley credited success in the first game to her squad’s execution, and pointed to simple goals as driving the team’s success.
“We focus in on each inning with a goal to score one run,” she said. “It helps us keep everything in perspective.”
In the second game on Saturday and the third game on Sunday, defensive miscues cost the Yellowjackets close contests as they fell 8-4 to host Elmira College and 5-4 to Keuka College on Sunday.
The Yellowjackets played both games from behind, giving up six runs in the first inning to Elmira and playing from a 3-0 hole against Keuka.
“I was really impressed with the character of our team,” Shanley said. “We were down and we fought back.”
Weather, as is often the case, was a factor in the weekend’s games.
“The weather conditions weren’t all that great,” Gagne said, “and we played some good teams. But we did really well and made some great improvements. Our team is really coming together and we’re going to have a great rest of the season.”
That season kicks off into full swing today as the women start a grueling stretch of eight games in six days ? all at home on the Graduate Living Center softball field. UR hosts St. John Fisher College today at 3:30 p.m., has a rematch with Keuka on Saturday at noon, faces D’Youville College at 1 p.m. Sunday and plays Cazenovia College on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
“Playing four double headers in six days is always demanding on the mind and the body,” Gagne said.
She said that she thinks everyone prepares in their own way individually, giving Shanley credit for getting the team mentally prepared.
“As for myself, I make sure I’m well rested and keep my goals in mind,” Gagne said. “Coach gives us individual goals for the games that we play and we just tuck them in the back of our minds during the game.”
Krivickas said it was most important for the team to keep the momentum they built from playing RIT so tough.
“Eight games in six days can be mentally exhausting, but as long as we stay focused and confident we will succeed,” she said.
The games will serve as their unofficial home opener after both games last week were cancelled due to poor weather and Tuesday’s RIT game was unannounced and technically still a road game.
The team hopes for a strong fan turnout.
“Having a good turnout with Fisher will definitely bring momentum our way for this weekend,” Krivickas said. “As long as our pitching stays strong and we bring our bats out early it should be a good series.”
Hildebrandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.