The UR Softball team (URSB) headed south for spring break to begin their regular season in Florida. The Yellowjackets played a total of 12 games, finishing the week with a 9–3 record.

“It’s always a little nerve-wracking coming down to Florida because we usually spend all preseason inside the field house, but we were fortunate enough to get some practice time outside,” sophomore catcher Harleigh Kaczegowicz said. “This helped us out tremendously because the ball bounces completely different inside and outside.”

On the first day of competition, the Yellowjackets would face their first opponent of the 2017 season, the College of Staten Island (CSI). This game was the Dolphins’ fifth of the season, after winning three of their first four.

In the first three innings of the game, neither team  scored, but in the fourth, UR put three on the board. In the next inning, the Yellowjackets had four hits and two runs as a result of a double from senior pitcher Eleni Wechsler, which scored Kaczegowicz and junior utility player  Jocelynn Blackshear. In the sixth inning, Kaczegowicz singled in freshman infielder Meghan Bocyck and freshman infielder Lydia Petricca singled home Blackshear in the seventh. In the same inning, Wechsler scored on a wild pitch and freshman utility player Jessica Conforti doubled to left field, scoring two more runs which sealed the 10–4 victory over the Dolphins. Senior pitcher Sam Malecki threw a complete game for the Yellowjackets.

UR’s second game of the day was against Franklin College, who had already played nine games, winning all but two. UR’s three unearned runs in the second inning were the only scoring in the game, with only three Franklin runners going as far as second base. Wechsler, who threw a complete game, allowed only one walk and one hit in the first three innings, with two walks coming in the fourth. A groundout from Wechsler ended the sixth inning, and in the seventh, she would clinch the 3–0 victory with three more groundouts.

“After the first few games we were feeling great [and] all of our pitchers pitched great games,” said Kaczegowicz.

Two rematches would make up the next day of competition, with the Yellowjackets playing both Franklin College and CSI. UR’s second game against Franklin College was a 8–0 victory, with another standout performance from Wechsler who threw her second straight shutout. Wechsler allowed five hits, one walk and one fan. Later that day, UR and CSI needed an extra inning to decide the game. The Dolphins took a 1–0 lead in the third inning, with UR answering in the top of the seventh with an unearned run. In the eighth inning, CSI’s Ashley Notaro drove a single to right field, scoring, to defeat UR 3–2.

The third day of competition brought games against Hamilton College and Lancaster Bible College, both of which were wins. Against Hamilton College, senior outfielder Courtney Semkewyc had a home run in the fourth inning to break a 4–4 tie, which contributed to a final score of 7–4. Malecki pitched her first career no-hitter in UR’s 9–0 mercy-rule victory over Lancaster Bible College. The Yellowjackets finished the game with 14 hits coming from nine different hitters.Two of them, utility player r Michaela Farmer and Petricca, are freshmen.

“It makes me confident knowing how much depth we have on our team,” said Blackshear. “Us upperclassmen believe that it’s important to encourage the younger players to go out there and just kill it.”

After a day off, UR would defeat both Ohio Wesleyan and Rutgers-Newark on day four. UR had five doubles, a triple and a home run against Ohio Wesleyan, with senior outfield Shelby Corning and Kaczegowicz having three hits and two runs each. The 12–6 win went to Malecki, her third of the season. Wechsler had five strikeouts against Rutgers-Newark and improved her record to 4–0, allowing only three hits and three walks. In the third inning, Kaczegowicz doubled to right for the RBI, cutting their opponent’s lead in half. UR scored again in the sixth inning, tying the score. In the final inning, Kaczegowicz hit a single, which loaded the bases. Semkewyc then hit the ball to right center field and UR scored to defeat Rutgers-Newark 3–2.

“[Semkewyc] and I were waiting on the side to get up to bat while a timeout was called and I remember us talking and joking about who was going to win the game for the team,” said Kaczegowicz. “She said I could win the game with a hit, but I told her I was going to make it hard for her and that I would get on and she would have to hit us in, and she did […] as a team we perform so much better when we are having fun and by having a good laugh before our at bats.”

On the second to last day of their trip, the Yellowjackets beat Marywood University and, in a ten-inning thriller, St. Mary’s College (SMC). Blackshear and Wechsler had three RBIs each against Marywood, Petricca had two hits, and five other had one hit each. Wechsler had another stellar performance against SMC, holding them scoreless in the first four innings. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Belles would score, but UR answered with three runs in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, SMC would score twice, forcing an extra inning to break the 3–3 tie. Blackshear drove a double to score sophomore catcher/infielder Rachael Pletz in the eighth, with SMC answering to force yet another inning. Neither team scored in the ninth, but, in the top of the tenth, UR’s three run scoring hits from Petricca, Blackshear and freshman infielder Anne Marie Cortes made the score 7–4. SMC’s two runs in the bottom of the tenth were not enough to overcome the deficit and the the Yellowjackets prevailed, with a final score of 7–6.

“We played all the way until the tenth inning when we finally won and we did a really great job of working together as a team for this game,” said Kaczegowicz. “This was probably one of the strongest team moments during the week.”

Blackshear agreed.

“The toughest opponent we faced was probably St. Mary’s,” she said. “It was basically two games in one being that we were out there for almost three hours […] We really fought for that win.”

The week ended with two close losses against Stockton University (2–1) and Plattsburgh State (3–0) on the last day of competition.

“Overall the best part [of the week] was how well we did with a record of 9–3 and how much fun we had together as a team,” said Kaczegowicz.

URSB will continue their regular season campaign with a game at home on Thursday against Ithaca College, followed by games next Tuesday and Wednesday, both at home, against St. John Fisher college and SUNY Cortland.

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