FRIDAY, MARCH 04, 2011
Softball opens USF Under Armour Invitational with two wins
The JU softball team got key contributions across the board to down Saint Joseph’s, 2-0 (8), and Maine, 2-1, on the first day of the USF Under Armour Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. on Friday afternoon.

Freshman Meagan Balding had a two-run homer in extra innings to lift the Dolphins (11-8) in the first game, while sophomore Sarah Simon had a key double against the Black Bears (6-9) to help get the second win.

In the circle, junior Sarah Sigrest (4-3) earned the win against the Redhawks (5-5) after tying a career-best with 11 strikeouts and scattering two hits in seven shutout innings. She also got the save in the second game, while sophomore Olivia Kline (7-3) allowed one run in 6.1 innings to get the win.

“It’s good to get back in the win column,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “We fought for those two wins today. We need a little bit more offense, but I saw signs of that coming soon.”

Offensively, Kline and senior Katie Kelly finished with a hit in the first game, while freshman Jacey Warner had a hit and scored both runs against Maine.

Against Saint Joseph’s, Sigrest was perfect through the first 3.1 innings before allowing a single to left field by Laura Cardone. Bernadette Moran advanced her to second with a sacrifice bunt, while Monica Aguilar followed with a walk. Dana Bieniek worked the count full in the next at-bat, but Sigrest struck her out with an off-speed pitch to end the inning.

The Dolphins recorded their first hit of the game against Redhawks starter and eventual losing pitcher Erin Gallagher in the fifth inning with a one-out single by Kelly. Balding moved her to second on a groundout before Kelly advanced to third on a wild pitch. Gallagaher worked out of the inning by getting Kline to ground out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Bieniek recorded a two-out single to center field and moved to second on a JU error. Sigrest quashed the threat by striking out the next batter to force extra innings.

The Dolphins placed senior Annike Don on second for the international tie breaker rule to start the eighth. Gallagher got Kelly to ground out, but Balding followed with a homer to left field to give the Dolphins a 2-0 lead.

Sigrest retired the Redhawks in order in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure the two-hit shutout.

Gallagher (4-3) allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in 7.1 innings of work.

Against Maine, the Dolphins took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Warner scored on a two-out base-loaded pass ball by the Black Bears.

Simon made it a 2-0 JU advantage in the third inning by doubling home Warner, who opened the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a pass ball.

In the fifth inning, Jillian Benson broke Kline’s seven straight outs streak with a one-out single to right field for Maine. After a sacrifice bunt, Benson advanced to third on a pass ball by Simon. Kline left Benson stranded by inducing a ground out to Cassie Hodgson to end the inning.

Maine would not go down quietly as Allen led off the seventh inning with walk and Dagmar Ralphs followed with a bunt single to the first base side. After a pop out, Sigrest relieved Kline and allowed a pinch-hit single to Jean Stevens to load the bases. The Black Bears scored on a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat and advanced runners into scoring position on a wild pitch, but Sigrest froze Maine’s leadoff hitter for a strike out to end the game.

Maine’s Beth Spoehr took the loss, allowing two runs on two hits, five walks and four strikeouts in five innings.

The Dolphins continue the invitational tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. against Radford before closing the day against Villanova at 5:30 p.m.