HAMDEN, Conn. – It was a historic afternoon for the Quinnipiac softball team as senior Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) became the program's all-time doubles leader while sophomore Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) broke Quinnipiac's single-season RBI record, helping the Bobcats earn a split of Manhattan with a 6-0 win and 6-5 loss in eight innings from QU Softball Field on Thursday. With both needing one each for their respective team records, Alba and Paolucci didn't wait long as they both moved into first place in their first at-bats of the afternoon. The Bobcats move to 16-32 on the season while Manhattan closes out their 2013 campaign with a 21-25 record.
Alba was caressed from the Quinnipiac bench as she slid in safely at second in the first inning to give her 44 career doubles and move her into first-place on the all-time leader board. She passed Sarah Collins '06 and with one more double in game two she now has 45 career two-base hits. Paolucci's RBI single in the first inning gave her 42 for the season, passing Kerri McMahon's 18-year record she established back in 1995 with 41 runs batted in.
Both record-breakers put on masterful outings at the plate for the Bobcats as Alba went 5-for-9 with a pair of multi-hit games including two doubles, two RBI and one run scored. Paolucci also chipped in two walks in game two to reach base safely three times. A key contributor for the Bobcats was freshman Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa.) who compiled a 4-for-7 afternoon with three hits in game two for her seventh game this season with three hits. She tripled once in each game and scored five of the Bobcats' 11 runs on the day. Senior Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) was 3-for-8 combined with two RBI and two runs scored throughout the doubleheader while sophomore Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) reached base all three times in game on with her fourth home run of the season to go along with two walks and two runs scored.
Not to be outdone, freshman starter Nicole Gubellini (Salem, N.H.) put together her best start of her young career, tossing a complete game five-hit shutout in game one. It is just the third time this season the Bobcats have shutout their opponent and the first in Gubellini's career.
The first game of the doubleheader played out just as the Bobcats wanted as they pushed three runs across in the first inning and then combined a great pitching outing with some solid defense to frustrate the Manhattan hitters, who left 12 runners on-base throughout game one.
The first inning started with a leadoff walk to Solt, who then advanced all the way to third on two illegal pitches from Manhattan starter Kate Bowen. Salgado then walked and alertly busted for second to induce the Jasper's defensive attention. After the infielders threw the ball around eventually tagging out Salgado, Solt easily scored on the play. Alba then broke the record with her double to left center, stole third and came home on Paolucci's RBI single. Senior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) then came through with a run-scoring single through the left side to make it 3-0 after one.
The game then settled down until the third inning where Barba went deep for her fourth home run of the season as the ball barely made it over the left field fence to give her team a 4-0 lead. Gubellini meanwhile was working her way in and out of jams as the Jaspers combined to leave two runners on-base in each of their first four innings at the plate.
Two more insurance runs came across in the bottom of the fourth for the Bobcats as Solt tripled down the left field line with two outs to begin the two-out rally. Salgado then poked a single through the left side and was followed by Alba who slapped another RBI single down the left field line to give Quinnipiac a 6-0 lead.
Gubellini continued to mow down hitters, retiring six in-a-row at one point, and then finishing the job in the bottom of the seventh. After the Jaspers loaded the bases with one out in the final frame, Manhattan lined out to first and then hit into a fielders' choice to finish off the Bobcat shutout. The freshman starter and her defense put together a masterful performance as she pitched seven scoreless innings without recording a strikeout while her defense pitched a shutout as well, making no errors in the field.
Game two was much different than the first as the Bobcats were battling back from behind all game starting in the third inning wherein Jocelin Whitmore started the inning with a double to center field and then two consecutive bunts helped bring her home including a bunt single to score Whitmore from third. Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Amanda Babcock smacked an RBI single to left field to give the Jaspers a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore Hannah Lindsley (Narragansett, R.I.) did well to escape further damage as she induced an inning-ending double play, the third such play for the Bobcats in game two alone. The double play in the third was the third-straight inning in which the Bobcats ended on a double play ball.
Quinnipiac responded with a run of their own in the bottom half as Solt began the inning with one of her three hits in game two, an infield single to the shortstop. Then a fielding error brought Solt home from second after a groundout moved her up a base as the Bobcats now trailed by one.
Manhattan increased their lead back up to two on a RBI double from Mickayla Romero in the fourth. They threatened to break the game open in the fifth as Lindsley walked Jen Keller to load the bases with two outs. Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild brought on freshman pitcher Sydney Robey (Glenmoore, Pa.) who showed some moxie and induced a one-pitch groundout to end the inning.
After the two sides went back-and-forth for some more runs in the fifth and then into the sixth, Manhattan led 5-2 going into the bottom of the sixth. The bottom of the Quinnipiac order got the inning started with a leadoff walk from senior Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.). After two outs, the inning looked to be over before Solt tripled to right field that brought home Kesses, followed by an RBI single from Salgado and another double from Alba to deep right center field that evened the score at 5-5.
The pressure-packed game reached extra innings with the score still tied. The inning began with a single and later the bases were loaded with just one out and Babcock at the dish. Robey did well to induce a fielder's choice out from third to home to limit the Jaspers but couldn't escape Meghan McDevitt who walked on four pitches to plate the go-ahead run.
Quinnipiac's bottom of the eighth went by without a baserunner as Manhattan closed out their extra inning 6-5 victory over the Bobcats.
Now Quinnipiac will travel down to Moon Township, Pa. where Robert Morris awaits for a Saturday doubleheader followed by another two-game set on Sunday against St. Francis (Pa.). The Bobcats will need all four victories combined with four losses from the Colonials in order to make the postseason.
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