Softball wins five straight games

Photo by John Nakano

The softball team has hit its stride after winning five straight games over the past week, including four in a row via run-rule. The streak began on Friday afternoon with back-to-back ten-run wins over the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers at Mewborn Field. The team then hosted Savannah State in a doubleheader, winning both games over the Tigers by scores of 15-7 and 18-0. On Sunday the team played the Mountaineers again, but in much closer fashion, winning the game 2-0. A game at Tennessee against the Lady Volunteers that was originally scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled due to inclement weather.

The Jackets scored in every inning of their first game on Friday while starting pitcher Emily Anderson gave up no runs on just two hits and tallied five strikeouts. Right fielder Katie Johnsky drove in the first run, lacing a double to left field that brought home Samantha Pierannunzi. Johnsky finished the game with two hits in two at bats, driving in two RBIs and scoring two runs herself.

Pierannunzi hit her first home run of the season in the next inning to give Tech a 3-0 lead. The team put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs to take a 10-0 lead. Courtney Ziese blasted a three-run homer, immediately followed by a solo shot by Maddie Lionberger.

Game 2 started right where the first game left off, as the Jackets once again scored five runs in the top of the first to take an early lead. Lionberger and Malea Bell each had two-RBI hits in the inning. The team added five more runs in the third inning, due in part to mistakes by the Mountaineers. The game was capped off with two solo home runs in the fifth inning by Bell and Colleen Darragh. It was the first home run of Bell’s collegiate career.

Tech pitchers Kylie Kleinschmidt and Christina Biggerstaff combined to pitch a no-hitter, as the Mountaineers’ only two runs came in the first off of an illegal pitch and a fielder’s choice.

“It was a great team effort,” head coach Shelly Hoerner said, courtesy of “Samantha Pierannunzi did a great job of getting on base and from there it was contagious. They were seeing the ball really well today.”

The Jackets scored 33 runs off of 25 hits in their two games against Savannah State on Saturday. The team scored three runs in each of its first two innings: in the first, back-to-back doubles by Fullem and Lionberger plated three, while a passed ball, ground out, and sac fly scored the second inning’s runs. The Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the second, but Anderson was able to pitch out of the jam without allowing a run by striking out two batters and forcing a pop-up.

However, the Tigers came storming back in the top of the third, hitting two three-run home runs to take a 7-6 lead. The advantage would not last long, as Bell and Pierannunzi each brought in two runs the next inning as the Jackets put up six more on the scoreboard. The game ended in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the fifth, when Pierannunzi laced a single to right that drove in two more and gave Tech the run-rule victory.

Kleinschmidt and Biggerstaff pitched another no-hitter in Saturday’s Game 2, marking the first time since 2003 that the Jackets threw two no-hitters in the same weekend. Biggerstaff did most of the work, as Kleinschmidt left the game in the first inning before recording an out. Meanwhile, the offense recorded 18 runs off of 14 hits. Caitlyn Coffey hit two of Tech’s five home runs in the game.

“The pitchers are doing a great job and they’ve pitched well all weekend,” Hoerner said. “Biggerstaff is coming into her own right now, and pitched very well yesterday and again today. Savannah State is a power hitting team, but we made some adjustments and she was in her zone today. There was great support behind her as well.”

The weekend concluded on Sunday with a 2-0 win over the Mountaineers. Biggerstaff pitched a complete game and stuck out 13 batters. A bases-loaded, two-out wild pitch brought home the clinching run for the Jackets.

With the five wins, the Jackets’ record now stands at 7-8. The team begins its ACC slate of games this Saturday, with a doubleheader against Louisville at Mewborn Field.