March 12, 2013

Softball Snaps Skid With Win Against Maine, 6-5; Challenge National Power South Florida in 7-4 Loss From Tampa

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TAMPA, Fla. – The Quinnipiac softball team snapped an eight-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 6-5 win over Maine and followed with a strong showing against national powerhouse South Florida in a 7-4 loss from USF Softball Field. Freshman Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa.) tallied five hits throughout the doubleheader while sophomore Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) slugged her first career grand slam against the Bulls in the nightcap. Quinnipiac splits on Tuesday as their record improves to 3-13 while Maine drops their 19th straight game to move to 1-19 while USF improves to 15-10 on the season.

Solt highlighted the Bobcat doubleheader as she went 5-for-8 with one double and one run scored. The freshman outfielder has now recorded three hits in a game three times this season, most on the team, and has upped her batting average to .373 which is tops on the team. Paolucci's grand slam is her third home run of the season and second in four games. She posted five RBI through the doubleheader and now leads the team with 10 on the year. Sophomore Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) notched her second three-hit game of the season while senior Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored against the Black Bears. Freshman pitcher Sydney Robey (Glenmoore, Pa.) highlighted the pitching core with four solid relief innings against Maine to pick up her first career victory.

The Bobcats kicked off the doubleheader against Maine and immediately were under siege from the Black Bear offense. Freshman starter Nicole Gubellini (Salem, N.H.) allowed one run and then loaded the bases with one out in the second. Despite the threat, Gubellini averted potential damage allowing just one run while inducing two pop outs to keep the game within reach at 2-0 Maine.

Quinnipiac finally struck in the third as the Bobcats loaded the bases with one out before Paolucci skied a sacrifice fly to center field to score pinch runner freshman Abby Johnson (Chelmsford, Mass.) from third and Barba followed up with an RBI base knock to right field to even the score at 2-2.

Gubellini ran into some trouble in the fourth as two leadoff singles had Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild call to the pen for Robey. After a sacrifice bunt, the freshman righty bore down and shut down the Maine offense with a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.

The momentum carried into the bottom of the fourth for the Bobcats as they pushed across four runs in the inning. Senior Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) ignited the barrage with a bunt single followed by a single from Solt and sophomore Brittany Cyr (Southington, Conn.) reached on an error to load the bases with one out. Alba came through for her team out of her three spot in the batting order with an RBI single through the left side of the infield to give her team their first lead of the game. With two outs and the bases still juiced, Barba hit another RBI single this time to left field to plate Solt and then back-to-back RBI walks from seniors Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.) and Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) scored two more to make it a 6-2 game.

Robey again pitched out of trouble in the fifth as Maine couldn't score with two runners on and one out but they did threaten in the seventh. With her team still leading 6-2, Robey induced a groundout to start the inning but Maine then notched a walk, single, RBI double and RBI single in secession to close the gap to 6-4. With the game-winning run at the plate, Robey shined in the pressure-packed moment as she induced an RBI groundout followed by a groundout to Alba at shortstop to secure her team the victory.

The win ended the Bobcats' eight-game losing streak and also pushed Maine's losing streak to 19 games which stands as the longest in the nation.

Quinnipiac's second game on the evening featured a matchup against 2012 Women's College World Series finalist USF. The Bulls are a traditional powerhouse out of the BIG EAST conference and were ranked in the Top 10 at times last season. The Bobcats certainly put a scare in the Bulls early in their contest on Tuesday night.

The Bobcat's leading hitter Solt started the first inning with a single to left field. Cyr then reached on a fielder's choice out and Barba later singled to load the bases with one out, setting the stage for Paolucci. Facing one of the top Bulls pitchers Erica Nunn, the sophomore catcher took the Nunn offering and belted it to deep left center field and out for her first career grand slam. The home run is also the 18th of Paolucci's career which puts her into a tie with Kerri McMahon '96 for the third-most home runs in Quinnipiac history.

Faced with the adversity early, USF was held in check for a majority of the first two innings by Quinnipiac starter sophomore Hannah Lindsley (Narragansett, R.I.). Just one run was scored until the third where the Bulls jumped in front with five runs including a three-run homer from Kourtney Salvarola.

Junior pitcher Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) was inserted for Lindsley in the fourth and finished the game strong for her team, throwing 3.1 innings while allowing just two hits and one run to the high-powered Bulls offense.

USF held the Bobcats in check throughout the remainder of the game despite the initial damage. Quinnipiac threatened in the fifth as freshman Dani Edmands (Northborough, Mass.) was hit by a pitch and Solt singled the put the first two runners on. But three straight outs snuffed out the scoring opportunity for the Bobcats.

The Bulls added another run late to push their lead to 7-4 and eventually closed out the win from USF Softball Field. Lindsley took the loss for Quinnipiac to move her record to 2-4 on the season.

Quinnipiac will look to carry this momentum into Wednesday where they will take on UT-Chattanooga from Clearwater, Fla. in a neutral non-conference meeting.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu