UR’s softball team opened its season on the road this past weekend traveling south to Virginia Beach to participate in the Beach Blast hosted by Virginia Wesleyan College. The ‘Jackets played four games, matching up with Lynchburg College, Salisbury University, Rowan University and Bridgewater College and came away with a 1-3 record to start the season. UR lost both games on Friday and was shut out by Salisbury and Lynchburg, 10-0 and 1-0, respectively.

The ‘Jackets faced the Lynchburg Hornets in a pitching duel, but came up short. Junior pitcher Beth Ameno struck out 10 batters, gave up six hits, four bases on balls and allowed one earned run to score. UR was held to just three hits and was fanned nine times by Hornets freshman pitcher Katie Bruce. Three different Yellowjackets got singles for UR in the game. Senior centerfielder Jessica Sorrentino singled to right field in the first inning. Freshman second baseman Erin Clark singled to right field in the third inning. Freshman shortstop Lindsay Macaluso singled to center field in the sixth inning to close out the hitting. In addition, freshman right fielder Elizabeth Slupinski drew a walk in the fifth inning.

UR was held to three hits by Salisbury’s Stacy Davis and was struck out four times. UR’s first hit of the game came in the first inning when Ameno singled. The second hit of the game came from sophomore Juliana Nicholson with a single in the fourth inning. Junior catcher Megan Winn singled in the sixth inning, giving UR its third hit of the game.

Ameno started the game for the Yellowjackets, pitching three innings before being lifted from the game. Altogether for the day, she pitched 10 innings, gave up two hits and four runs, walked one batter and struck out two. She was replaced by freshman pitcher Brittany Hylen, who surrendered six runs on nine hits. She walked one batter, fanned four and also threw two wild pitches in her first college outing.

The Yellowjackets’ only win of the weekend came on Saturday when they beat Rowan. The win was coupled with an 11-1 loss to Bridgewater.

Ameno entered the circle again for the ‘Jackets against Rowan with mixed results. She struck out another 10 batters, but was wild around the plate with a staggering eight walks. Ameno pitched five scoreless innings in the game. Two Rowan pitchers combined to pitch seven innings and gave up eight hits and five walks, while allowing nine runs. The ‘Jackets started off their scoring early in the first inning with a walk by Macaluso, followed by a single from junior Brittany Celeste. Celeste advanced to second and Macaluso scored on a ground out. Then Ameno singled moving Celeste to third. Ameno was caught stealing in an attempt to take third base, giving Celeste the opportunity to score the second run of the inning. Designated player Winn singled to close out the hitting in the inning for UR, ensued by Clark reaching first on an error.

The Yellowjackets continued their scoring in the second inning, capitalizing on poor defense by Rowan and a big hit. Slupinski reached first on an error by the catcher and then progressed to second on a put out. Celeste was hit by a pitch. Then, Sorrentino bashed one over the fence for a 3-run homer, sending Celeste and Slupinski home. Ameno singled before the last out of the inning was made.

Softball put another three-spot on the board in the third inning with all runs being unearned. Clark walked and shifted to second when Hylen was hit by a pitch. Slupinski reached base on an error by the pitcher loading the bases. Macaluso reached first on a fielder’s choice, scoring Clark. Hylan made out at home trying to score. Celeste singled for two RBIs, scoring Macaluso and Slupinski. Sorrentino added a walk in the inning before the last out was made.

Rowan scored four runs in the fifth inning and tacked on another two runs in the sixth to cut UR’s lead to 8-6.

UR squandered a scoring opportunity in the sixth inning. They made up for it in the seventh plating their ninth run on a double by Slupinski, succeeded by Macaluso’s single to score Slupinski.

The ‘Jackets racked up eight hits and five base on balls in the game.

“We jumped off to a good start and kind of let our guard down. Bouncing back after errors was difficult for us,” head coach Michelle Burrell said of the win over Rowan. “I was disappointed that they did come back and make it a close game.”

This kind of situation is something that the team has been working on to overcome during practice this week in preparation for upcoming games, Burrell explained.

In the game against Bridgewater, the ‘Jackets’ bats were stymied to only three hits.

UR’s only run was scored in the fourth inning. Ameno reached on an error by the Bridgewater third baseman and subsequently stole second.

Clark reached on an error by the second baseman, and Ameno scored.

Hylan took to the circle for the Yellowjackets, pitching the complete game. She gave up 11 runs, 10 of which were earned on 12 hits and seven walks, while striking out five batters.

Bridgewater scored four runs in the first inning, four more in the sixth inning and a three spot in the seventh inning to cap things off.

“The trip did not go as well as we planned. We have a lot to work on, but our season will definitely get better. We have a lot of potential; it will just take some time,” Sorrentino said.

Besides practice, the team has plenty of time to work on its game. They play three games versus the College of New Jersey and Ripon College in Florida before they enter the thick of their season. They are also traveling to Altamonte Springs, Fla. over spring break to play in the University Athletic Association Championships. Last year they came away as the champions, sharing the UAA title with Washington University in St. Louis. The softball team hopes to repeat that success this year.

“The team set a goal to win like we did last year,” Burrell said. “My expectation is that we play each and every out, have good at bats and leave everything on the field. It’s a matter of taking it one game at a time to do every thing that we have to do.”

Levy is a member of the class of 2008.

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