MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – The Bobcats and Colonials were locked in a pair of tightly contested battles but Robert Morris was too much for the Quinnipiac softball team as they fell twice, 1-0 and 8-6, in a pair of NEC Conference games from North Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon. With the loss in game one, the Bobcats fell out of playoff contention and will finish their 2013 season tomorrow with a pair of games against St. Francis U. Quinnipiac's record drops to 16-34 (8-10 NEC) while Robert Morris clinches a spot in the NEC Tournament as they improve to 28-15-1 (14-4 NEC).
Freshman Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa) was the offensive catalyst for the Bobcats on Saturday as she chipped in two hits in each game of the doubleheader for her 19th and 20th multi-hit game of the season. She now has compiled 64 hits in 2013 which ties Sarah Collins' total from 2003 for the second-most in a single-season in program history and is just one away from matching Kerri McMahon's program record 65 hits from the 1995 season. Solt has been red-hot of late, going 10-for-17 over her past five games with five runs, six RBI and two triples.
Also stepping up for the Bobcats on Saturday was their freshman pitcher Nicole Gubellini (Salem, N.H.) who held the Robert Morris offense to just one run on three hits in game one but took the hard luck defeat. She has been the Bobcats' best pitcher the past week as she has allowed just one run on eight hits in her past 13 innings thrown, all without having recorded a strikeout.
Both sides were locked in a pitcher's duel throughout game one as Gubellini and Colonial's starter Nicole Sleith, one of the contenders for NEC Pitcher of the Year, went back-and-forth throughout. Gubellini was especially on-point early as she retired the first six Colonial batters before ultimately the deciding third inning where Sleith walked on four pitches to start the inning. A bunt moved the pinch runner Jessica Tanigawa into scoring position and then was knocked in on an RBI double from Samantha Santillo to give the Colonials a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Sleith continued to mow down the Bobcat lineup as Solt's single in the top of the third with two outs was the first hit of the day for Quinnipiac. Another two out single from senior Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.), this time in the fifth inning, went by without further damage.
Quinnipiac's best chance against Sleith came in the top of the sixth were Solt slapped a leadoff single to first base. Facing the heart of the Bobcats' lineup, Sleith wasn't fazed as she induced a fielder's choice, groundout and then a swinging strikeout with two outs and the runner in scoring position to end the inning.
Gubellini did well to avoid further damage in the bottom of the sixth as Haileigh Stocks hit a one-out double to left center and with two outs later in the inning and two runners in scoring position, the freshman bore down and induced a groundout to keep the deficit at one.
Sleith closed the door on the Bobcats' playoff chances in the seventh as she recorded three straight outs to finish off her line which went for a complete game shutout, her sixth of the season, with just three hits allowed, no walks and 10 strikeouts.
Game two was much more of an offensive showcase as the two sides combined for 14 runs after scoring just one in game one. Senior Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) made some history in her first at-bat as she slapped a single through the left side for the 141st hit of her career, moving her past Jill Cimminello '03 and into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time Quinnipiac hits list. She then stole her sixth base of the season and 47th of her career as she passed Christine Bourdeau '09 for sole possession of third place on the all-time list.
The first runs came across in the second inning as the Bobcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Sophomore Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) led off the inning with a single to right and with the bases later loaded and one out, Solt came throughout with a two-run single down the right field line. A wild pitch brought home another run as the Bobcats were up early.
The momentum didn't last long however, as the Colonials plated five runs in the second, one in the third and two more in the fourth to take an 8-3 lead into the fifth. Chelsea Siar's two-run single in the second represented the big hit for the Colonials as it put them ahead 5-3. An Ashley Gerhart sacrifice fly in the third brought home another run and a pair of RBI doubles in the fourth from Santillo and Sleith put Robert Morris in commanding position with a five-run lead.
The Bobcats were able to place a dent in the Colonials' lead in the top of the sixth as the inning began with three straight singles from Paolucci, senior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) and Kesses to load the bases with no one out. Freshman Abby Johnson (Chelmsford, Mass.) drew a walk to push home a run and Solt followed with and RBI single down the left field line that scored two after a fielding error from the catcher allowed Kesses to score from second. With two runners still in scoring position and just one out, the Bobcats had the Colonials where they wanted them but couldn't finish the job as a strikeout and grounded ended the inning.
The final inning went by without a run for Quinnipiac despite a leadoff single from sophomore Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) as the Bobcats fell to Robert Morris by a mere three runs combined through the two games on Saturday.
Quinnipiac now enters their final regular season games and the final NEC games in program history on Sunday as they will take on St. Francis U starting at Noon from Red Flash Field.
Contact: Maxx McNall; email@example.com