Softball

Bobcats split with Red Flash, look to NEC Tournament

By Kevin Noonan, QBSN Staff Writer

Senior Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) ended her regular season career at Quinnipiac University the way she ended the at-bats for 956 other batters: with a strikeout.

As Quinnipiac heads into the Northeast Conference tournament, Schwartzburg is only 43 strikeouts short of 1,000 for her career.

She dominated the St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (22-26, 9-11 NEC) in the second game of the doubleheader to close the season with a 4-0 victory.  The Bobcats (30-16, 13-7 NEC) lost the first game of the afternoon 3-0 at the hands of Brooke Koch (10-5).  St. Francis (Pa.) started with a strong first inning and never looked back.

Senior Mina Duffy (Piedmont, Calif.) started the game for Quinnipiac and only lasted .1 innings, giving up three runs on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.

Taylor Darnielle singled to deep right field and scored Paige Smith from first base for the first run of the game.  The next batter, Taylor Parsons, stepped up to bat and clubbed her fifth home run of the year, one of three extra base hits on the afternoon to give the Red Flash a 3-0 lead.

Sophomore Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) came in for the Bobcats and shut down the opponent’s offense for the final 6.2 innings of the game.

Quinnipiac did outhit St. Francis 8-7, but were unable to make a serious threat until the bottom of the seventh.

Senior Ashley Heiberger (Sioux Falls, S.D.) doubled and junior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) singled to put runners on the corners.  Heiberger was then thrown out at home on a suicide squeeze play and junior Jacquie Ristow (Seal Beach, Calif.) grounded out to end the game.

Senior Christy Cabrera (West Sacramento, Calif.) went 2-for-4 in the game with a single and double for the Bobcats.

The second game saw the Bobcats jumped out to an early similar to the fashion of the Red Flash earlier in the afternoon.

Cabrera lead off with a single, subsequently stealing second base and scoring on the two-run home run off the bat of junior Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) for her seventh of the season.

Schwartzburg (18-5) dominated the Red Flash, throwing a two-hitter for the Bobcats while striking out 12 batters on the afternoon.

Quinnipiac added two more runs when Heiberger hit a ground ball to St. Francis first baseman Kaitlin Andler, who made an error, allowing Duffy and freshman Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) to play.

Cabrera, Duffy, and Barba each finished with two hits in the second game of the doubleheader.

The Red Flash threatened to score in the top of the seventh when Taylor Parsons walked for the second time in the game and Andler came inches away from hitting a home run with the ball bouncing off the top of the fence back to Cabrera in center field.  Andler reached second for a double, and Parsons was held at third base.

Schwartzburg then retired the next hitters, striking out Courtney Francis to end the game.

With the win, Quinnipiac propelled itself into a second place tie with LIU-Brooklyn in the NEC, meaning it will be the home team when battling the Blackbirds in Moon Township, Penn. for the NEC Tournament starting May 11.

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Softball downs Stony Brook with strong pitching

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Publishing Editor

Even though the rain cut the softball team’s doubleheader against Stony Brook (31-14-1) in half, the weather didn’t stop the Bobcats (29-15) from pulling away with 4-0 victory over the Seawolves.  Despite the score, the game showcased the two opposing pitchers’ dominance and proved that one rough inning can change the course of any outing.

All of the runs came across the plate in the bottom of the second inning.  Sophomore pitcher Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) helped out her own cause, driving in the game’s first run.  Her RBI single to left centerfield drove home Mina Duffy (Piedmont, Calif.) for her fifth run batted in this year.  After Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) reached on a single, senior catcher Ashley Heiberger nailed a home run to left centerfield for her third long-ball of the season.

Outside of being shaken up in the second inning, Stony Brook pitcher Christine Lucido threw a flawless game.  The only five hits she allowed were a product the second frame.  Lucido sent every other Bobcat back to the bench the order in which they came, collecting five strikeouts along the way.

Despite Lucido’s remarkable effort, her team’s offense could not break Alfiere.  Only one Seawolf reached third base in the game, but Alfiere struck out Jess Combs to end the bases loaded threat.  Alfiere went the distance, allowing four hits, giving up two walks and striking out three.  With the win, her record improves to 7-2 on the year.

“To come out and shut them out like that is a tremendous performance, and Katie deserves a lot of credit for that,” head coach Germaine Fairchild said.

While Fairchild praised Alfiere’s performance, the pitcher acknowledged the importance of the win for the team as it prepares for the postseason.

“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Alfiere said.  “We’re all hitting really well.  We’re all working together really well, and it’s just good to know we can shut down a team that’s really good in their conference.”

Quinnipiac finishes its regular season in a weekend series against St. Francis (Pa.) starting May 5.  This last conference test before the playoffs is one that Fairchild welcomes as a chance to keep her team hot in all aspects of its game.

“We’re still in a phase where we’re getting better every game,” Fairchild said.  “Every opportunity we have to play, we’re going to get a little bit better at something.”

This will only aid the Bobcats as they round out the rest of their regular season and fix their sights beyond it.

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Softball splits doubleheader with Robert Morris

By Giovanni Mio, QBSN Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac softball team split a doubleheader with the Robert Morris Colonials, losing the first game 1-0 and winning the second 3-1 Saturday at the QU Softball Field.

Robert Morris (29-19, 13-5 NEC) scored the only run of the first game off of a throwing error by the Bobcat shortstop Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) in the top of the fourth. That was all the Colonials needed as freshman pitcher Nicole Sleith pitched seven innings of three-hit ball.

The Bobcats (24-15, 10-6 NEC), who have avoided being swept in a doubleheader all season, continued that streak by winning the second game. Quinnipiac trailed 1-0 in the fourth once again, after Colonial senior Jaci Timko hit a home run that bounced off the scoreboard. The Bobcats answered by scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning, one that was off a wild pitch.

“I think our team does a very good job of staying in the game,” said head coach Germaine Fairchild.

Schwartzburg pitched both games and gave up no earned runs. She lowers her ERA to 1.54 on the season and has 163 total strikeouts.

“Last week was the first weekend I pitched two games in a day this season,” said Schwartzburg. “I knew I could do it, and coach knows I’ll go until she tells me to stop.”

Quinnipiac faced two left-handed pitchers in Sleith and sophomore Geena Badolato. This was the third time the Bobcats faced a left-handed pitcher all season.

“In the sport of fast pitch softball, if you have a left-handed pitcher, you do have a bit of an advantage,” said Fairchild.

With the two-game set against St. Francis (Pa.) postponed, the next game for the Bobcats is a doubleheader at Hartford on Wednesday.  The first pitch is set for 2:30 p.m.

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Softball splits doubleheader with Wagner

By Mark Spillane, QBSN Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac softball team could not pull off a clean sweep in a doubleheader against Wagner Saturday afternoon, dropping the first game 5-4, but it did come back out for the second game without holding back, winning 9-2.  The split makes for the fifth time the Bobcats have broken even in a doubleheader this season.

Quinnipiac dropped game one of the doubleheader after sophomore Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) was roughed up for three earned runs on five hits over 2.1 innings to start the game.

Senior Christy Cabrera (West Sacramento, Calif.) entered in relief of Alfiere and kept the Bobcats in it by giving up just one unearned run over three innings.

The Bobcats pushed a few of their own runs across the plate in the fourth inning.

Junior Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) got the scoring started with a solo shot to lead off the inning. Senior Mina Duffy (Piedmont, Calif.) followed Alba’s fourth home run of the season with a walk.  The RBI double by freshman Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) cut the Seahawks lead to 4-2 and drive Wagner starter Samantha Bedker from the game in favor of Judy Betz.

Quinnipiac was not done as Alfiere laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Barba to third. The very next at bat, Betz hit junior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) to put runners on the corners for junior Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.).

After Figmic stole second, Kesses hit a hard ground ball to shortstop, Kelsey Parker. Parker could not make the play, allowing Barba and Figmic to score on the error to knot the score at four. Three of the runs were charged to Bedker with just one given to Betz.

Following a scoreless fifth inning, senior Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) entered the game in relief after Cabrera allowed two batters to reach base. Schwartzburg promptly struck out two Seahawks to end the inning.

Both teams remained silent until the Seahawks solved Schwartzburg for a run in the ninth on a Brittany Huss walk and an Ashley Olson RBI single.

“Well the pitch was in a three-spot, but it dropped too late. She just got a hold of it,” Schwartzburg said of the single.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they remained stifled by Betz, as she tossed six innings of one hit ball, while striking out five and allowing no walks to earn the victory.  Schwartzburg lost just her fourth game of the year, but continued pitching at the start of game two.

With the Bobcats already up 5-0 in the first inning of second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, senior catcher Ashley Heiberger (Sioux Falls, S.D.) blasted her second home run of the season to put the game out of reach.

The three-run shot off the face of the scoreboard in straightaway centerfield gave the Bobcats a commanding 8-0 lead that they would never relinquish.

Quinnipiac chased Wagner both starter Olivia Zwick and Bedker from the game before either could record an out. The duo was tagged for a combined six earned runs on four hits and two walks.

Zwick took the loss as Ashley Rollins pitched the remaining six innings for the Seahawks.

Schwartzburg pitched three quality innings, but tired in the fourth before she allowed two earned runs and turned it over to Alfiere to record the final 11 outs. Alfiere bounced back from her game one struggles to hold Wagner scoreless and earn her sixth victory of the season.

Head Coach Germaine Fairchild said she knows the Bobcats will need to avoid splitting doubleheaders to really make some ground.

“At some point we’re going to have to have one [sweep],” she said.  “At some point, we’re going to have to take it up a notch and sweep somebody.”

With the split, Quinnipiac moved to 20-12 overall and 7-5 in the Northeast Conference. Wagner finished the day with a 15-27 overall record, including a 4-8 NEC record.

With her nine strikeouts on the day, Schwartzburg pushed her season total to 134 and her career tally to 891.

The Bobcats return to action tomorrow with a doubleheader against the Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights. The first pitch of game one is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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Alba’s late double sparks comeback win

By Mark Spillane, QBSN Staff Writer

Junior shortstop Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning with her Quinnipiac Bobcats softball team (19-11, 6-4 NEC) trailing the University of Connecticut Huskies (17-15, 6-3 Big East) by the score of 4-2.

Alba delivered the hit of the game as she laced UConn starter Kiki Saveriano’s pitch into the left-centerfield gap to tie the game at four.

The shot knocked in junior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) and senior Ashley Heiberger (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and put Alba into scoring position at second base with a double.

“I was just trying to do my best to have a quality at-bat and put my best swing on whatever I was going to swing at,” Alba said.

Best swing or not, it was good enough for the Bobcats today.

Figmic got the inning started by drawing a one-out walk before Heiberger reached after being hit by a pitch. Then junior Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.) advanced the two with a sacrifice bunt, setting up Alba for the hit.

Luckily for the Bobcats, Alba wasn’t done. With junior Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) at the plate, Alba scampered to third base on a wild pitch. With the winning run on third base, Salgado smacked a hard ground ball to the shortstop, Emily O’Donnell. O’Donnell could not make the play as Salgado reached first on the error, and Alba scored to give the Bobcats a 5-4 lead.

Alba, typically Quinnipiac’s number three-hitter, batted leadoff today, and came through with her 15th and 16th RBI this season.

One Bobcat who was in her normal spot was senior ace-pitcher Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.). Schwartzburg pitched all seven innings to get the win, but did not make it easy on herself. With the Bobcats up 5-4 heading into the seventh inning, the Huskies sent the top of their order to the plate.

Schwartzburg hit leadoff batter, Jennifer Ward for the third time in the game to start the inning, and Ward promptly stole second base. With nobody out and the tying run in scoring position, Schwartzburg struck out O’Donnell looking before getting Marissa Guches to line out to right field.

Ward then advanced to third base on a wild pitch before Schwartzburg walked the Huskies cleanup hitter, Amy Vaughan. With the game on the line, Schwartzburg slammed the door shut by striking out Brittany Duclos to preserve the 5-4 victory.

With the win, Schwartzburg improved to 12-3 on the year and increased her season strikeout total by six to 125. Sophomore Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) went 2-for-3 and scored twice to bump her average up to .257 on the year.

Quinnipiac coach Germaine Fairchild attributed the three hit batters to Schwartzburg’s attempts to get more break out of her screwball but made it no secret that the in-state rivalry means something.

“Getting a game like this, like a UConn, a big school, you know there’s a lot of bragging rights riding on it, and to get a win gives us a ton of confidence going into the weekend,” she said.

This weekend the Bobcats get back out on the diamond against NEC competitors, Wagner on Saturday and Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday.

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Alfiere, Schwartzberg help shutout Stags

By Giovanni Mio, QBSN Staff Writer

Sophomore Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) and senior Heather Schwartzberg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) helped pitch the Bobcats softball team to a 2-0 win over Fairfield (15-19) Wednesday afternoon, giving them their third straight win.

“All my pitches were working really well,” said Alfiere. “I felt confident with my team behind me. They’re always making plays behind my back, so I felt really good out there.”

The only two runs of the game were scored in the bottom of the second inning, as juniors Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) and Jacquie Ristow (Seal Beach, Calif.) each recorded one run batted in.

“We’re in a good spot,” said head coach Germaine Fairchild. “Our pitchers are fresh and they’re not overtired. From a hitting perspective, we’re hitting the ball well.”

Quinnipiac (16-9, 4-2 NEC) will play its next games in a doubleheader as they travel to Long Island University on Friday, April 6.

“I think something this team is doing a great job of is focusing on the next 200 feet,” said Fairchild. “Each game is 200 feet closer to our goal, which is the NEC tournament.”

Schwartzberg recorded six strikeouts in her appearance today, giving her 104 on the season. Her earned run average has dropped to a 1.25.

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Softball sweeps, ties NCAA record for consecutive HR

By Jacob Nadeau, QBSN Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac Bobcats (15-9, 4-2 NEC) swept the Sacred Heart Pioneers (10-18, 3-3 NEC) 12- 7 and 5-4 during their home opener Sunday afternoon.  The Bobcats were led by junior first baseman Jacquie Ristow (Seal Beach, Calif.) who went 5-for-7 over the two games with two runs and three runs batted in.

Quinnipiac’s offense lit up, scoring 17 runs on 20 hits over the two games. This number lies in stark opposition to the one run on four hits Quinnipiac scored in its previous two games against Massachusetts and Monmouth.   Over the course of the two games, the two teams combined to score 28 runs on 34 hits with eight home runs.

Quinnipiac jumped out to an early lead in the first game, scoring eight runs in the first inning. The rally started when Quinnipiac’s leading hitter Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) knocked a ball over the fence for a three-run shot that brought in Christy Cabrera (West Sacramento, Calif.) and Ristow who had reached on a walk and an infield hit. It was Alba’s third homerun of the year.

Alba’s homerun was followed by solo shots from Mina Duffy (Piedmont, Calif.), Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) and Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.). The four straight blasts tied the NCAA record for consecutive homeruns. This put Quinnipiac up 6-0 with no outs in the first inning and also marked the end of Nicole Sidor’s time on the mound for Sacred Heart.

Liz Tsipouras replaced Sidor and managed to get two immediate outs in Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.) and Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.). Nonetheless, Quinnipiac managed to tack on two more runs before the inning was over when Ristow knocked in Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) and Cabrera, putting Quinnipiac up 8-0 going into the second.

Quinnipiac was not done either. In the bottom of the second Barba sent a ball out of the park for her second home run of the afternoon. Two batters later, Figmic muscled one out making her the fifth Bobcat player to homer in the game and giving Quinnipiac a 10-run lead.

Sacred Heart answered back in the third inning when Sidor hit a double and was brought around to score by Annie Dreher. Then Tsipouras knocked out at three-run home run that brought Jade Bowins and Dreher around to score, closing the game to 10-4 going into the bottom of the third.

Sacred Heart continued to get runs from the bottom of its lineup.  Justine Sibthorp took a base on balls to start the inning and advanced to second on a Nikki Surkes single. Alyssa Garza hit a double that brought Sibthorp around to score and advanced Surkes to third. Garza and Surkes scored off a base hit by Dreher, giving her three RBIs on the day. Quinnipiac held the 10-7 advantage going into the bottom of the forth.

Quinnipiac added two more insurance runs in the fifth inning when Ristow knocked in Cabrera and Salgado on a double.

The win was awarded to Alfiere who improves to 4-2 on the year while Sidor drops to 7-9.

Quinnipiac scored jump-started the second game when leadoff batter Cabrera reached first base on a walk and advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt from Ristow. Duffy knocked in Cabrera to put Quinnipiac up 1-0.

Sacred Heart gained its first lead of the day when third baseman Kate Nalder nailed a three-run homer, putting the Pioneers up 3-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Quinnipiac answered right back when Alba sent Ristow home on an RBI single. The one-run deficit was quickly erased when Duffy hit a three-run shot, knocking in Ristow and Alba Putting Quinnipiac up 5-3.

Sacred Heart would add one more run before the game ended but that wouldn’t be enough and Quinnipiac came out on top 5-4.

Quinnipiac continues play at home when it takes on Fairfield in a non-conference match-up on Wednesday, April 4 at 3:30 p.m. at the QU Softball Field. The Bobcats will then travel for two NEC doubleheaders at LIU Brooklyn on Friday, April 6 and Central Connecticut State on Saturday, April 7.

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