'Boro softball defeats Clarion for first win in five games

Category:  Sports
Friday, April 13th, 2018 at 12:48 PM
'Boro softball defeats Clarion for first win in five games by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Chris Rosato Jr.

Wearing green ribbons in their hair to honor the Humboldt Broncos, an amateur hockey team involved in a tragic April 6 bus crash, Edinboro’s softball team defeated Clarion University 13-4 in six innings in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader on Wednesday.

The first game saw periodic drizzling and light snow which increased to a heavy downpour of rain a few minutes after the game. With forecasts showing steady rain for several hours, both teams decided to cancel the second game. The two teams are in different PSAC divisions, so the game did not have playoff implications.

Edinboro got off to a hot start when leadoff hitter Danna Heh singled to left field and stole second base. Lauren Gierlak then walked and with runners on first and second, the Fighting Scots pulled off a double steal to put two runners in scoring position for Shannon Gilbert.

Gilbert sent a sacrifice fly deep enough to right field to allow the speedy Heh to tag up and score and sent Gierlak to third. After Olivia Jankowski struck out, Brittany Allen drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Allen then stole second base, drawing a throw from Clarion catcher Natalie Else that allowed Gierlak to score from third for Edinboro’s second run of the game.

Head Softball Coach Dan Gierlak said he wanted the team to be more aggressive at the plate after they seemed sluggish on April 5 at Seton Hill University.

“So yeah, what we tried to do is just be a little more aggressive,” he said. “[Not] so much don’t look at pitches, [but] just go up there and attack the ball, and I think they did a better job of that.”

Edinboro refused to take their foot off the gas in the second inning as two walks and a single loaded up the bases with one out. Lauren Gierlak forced across a run and advanced the other two runners by grounding out to the second baseman, which meant Gilbert would step up to the plate with runners on second and third base for the second time in the game.

It appeared she was going to repeat her previous at-bat when she hit a pop-up to shallow right-center field, but the ball dropped between three Clarion players without being touched, allowing both runners to score.

The Fighting Scots had runners on second and third once more in the third inning after a walk by Allen, a single by Roni Lipinski and a sacrifice bunt by Jessica Little. Heather Barrett came through with a double to center field to score both runs and make the score 7-0.

Edinboro also dominated on defense, not allowing Clarion to score until the third inning and holding them to one run until the fifth inning. Carley Nasca pitched all six innings for the Fighting Scots and struck out three while improving her record to 2-4 with the win.

Clarion threatened to put another run on the board in the fourth inning. Else walked to lead off the inning and was moved over by a ground-out and a sacrifice bunt. Clarion’s starting pitcher Laura Sadowski hit a deep line drive to center field, but Jankowski chased it down and caught it near the warning track to end the threat.

Clarion finally added to their one run in the fifth inning after getting Cassie Daniels to third with Moriah Lynn on first and two outs.

Lynn took off for second and Lipinski threw a strike down to second base that beat Lynn easily, but Allen was slow getting to the bag and had the ball bounce out of her glove and into the outfield, allowing Daniels to score. Jessica Cartia followed that up by launching a homerun to right-center field, cutting Edinboro’s lead to 8-4.

Dan Gierlak attributed the error to the team’s lack of playing time. He said they practice those plays frequently in practice, but that practices don’t compare to the stress of game situations.

“We did exactly what we wanted,” he said. “They did what we thought they were going to do, [and we should have] had her out. The girl ended up hitting the homerun in the inning, but we should’ve been out of it.”

Edinboro responded with a big inning of their own started by a bunt base hit by Heh. Overall, Heh utilized the wet infield dirt well. Bunts and soft hits tended to die in front of the plate or travel slowly, allowing her to go 4-for-5 with a combination of soft slaps and bunts that took too long for Clarion to field.

“[Heh’s] got great speed. When she gets on, she makes us go. She really does,” Dan Gierlak said. “We win games with her.”

Lauren Gierlak followed with a base hit up the middle that allowed Heh to advance to third. Gierlak stole second, but Clarion didn’t give into the bait and let her take the base.

Gilbert then sent her second sacrifice fly of the game to center field, scoring Heh. They loaded the bases again after adding another out, sending Victoria Allocco to the plate.

Allocco singled, moving all of the runners up a base and scoring another run, and Little followed by reaching on an error by Sadowski, who was playing first base, scoring two more runs to make the score 12-4. Singles by Barrett and Heh added two more runs to put the Fighting Scots up by nine runs at the top of the sixth inning. NCAA softball games can end after the fifth inning if one team leads by at least eight runs.

Clarion loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Nasca struck out Cassidy Runyon to end the game. Clarion’s record fell to 4-19 with the loss. They are 1-5 in PSAC Central play.

Edinboro will now hope the bats stay hot when they try to earn their first PSAC West win of the season when they host Gannon for a doubleheader on Friday. The first game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. with the second game scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

They are 0-2 in conference play after dropping their first two games at Seton Hill, and 4-11 overall. The Fighting Scots have not been able to play at home so far this season.

Chris Rosato Jr. can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

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