Softball Splits Second Straight Doubleheader in Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach, SC – With the beach, the crab legs, and the way she's been hitting, junior Kate Smayda will never want to leave South Carolina. The Swarthmore centerfielder continued her torrid start on Wednesday, going 4-for-9 with a double and a home run as the Garnet (4-2) went 1-1 for the second consecutive day at the Snowbird Tournament, defeating Bluefield College (VA) 8-0 before falling to St. Joseph's (NY) 4-1.
Smayda is batting .565 with four doubles, two home runs and 13 runs scored through the first six games of the 2012 softball season. Only one Swarthmore player scored more than 13 runs in the entire 2011 season.
Playing as the visitor for the first time this season, the Garnet put a two-spot on the board in their first at-bat to stake sophomore pitcher Melissa O'Connor to an early lead. Smayda started the day with a first-pitch double to right center and with one out, sophomore Nicole Aaron singled her home with a hard grounder into right. After a fielder's choice replaced Aaron with junior Danielle Seltzer at first for the Garnet, junior Rose Pitkin drove in her eighth run of the season with a shot off the centerfield fence for the 2-0 advantage.
O'Connor sent Bluefield down 1-2-3 in the first and in the top of the second, the Garnet picked up right where it had left off at the plate. Freshman Laurie Sellars earned her team-leading fifth walk of the season and with one out, Smayda singled her to second. A walk to sophomore Jesslyn Lammerts loaded the bases for Aaron who turned the carousel 90-degrees with an infield single scoring Sellars. Seltzer followed with a line-drive double to left to make the score 5-0 and Pitkin earned another RBI with a single straight up the middle as the Garnet ended the frame up by six.
Swarthmore tacked on single runs in the third and sixth. In the third, Smayda hit a one-out single to short and stole second, advancing to third on a Lammerts comebacker. With two outs, Aaron picked up the RBI with another infield single to the left side.
Three innings later, Sellars singled to left with one out and advanced to second on junior Samantha Bennett's infield single. After Smayda grounded into a fielder's choice erasing Sellars, Lammerts came through with two down with a clean single to left to plate the Garnet's eighth run of the morning.
On defense, one day after struggling with her control, O'Connor was her usual dominant self allowing only one runner to advance past second base in the entire game. Helped by a runner caught stealing, a pickoff, and a sensational diving play by Lammerts on a line-drive at first, O'Connor pitched her second career shutout and the second of the season for the Garnet pitching staff.
Chelsea Matzko had the ball for the Garnet in Wednesday's second game and the 5'11" freshman did her best escape-artist impression by wiggling out of trouble in each of the first three innings. St. Joseph's had the bases loaded with one out in the first and second-and-third with one out in both the second and third innings and failed to score each time.
At the plate, Smayda put the Garnet on the board with a titanic blast to straightaway center. But after walking the next batter Lammerts, St. Joseph's pitcher Cassie Martinez settled in and stranded a Garnet runner in scoring position in the first, second, and fourth.
St. Joseph's finally broke through against Matzko in the fourth. Lead-off and one-out singles put runners on the corners and Tara Bernocco stole second to put two runners in scoring position with less than two outs for the fourth consecutive inning. Matzko induced a hard grounder to shortstop, holding the runners, for the second out of the inning, but Julia DeCarmine lined a clean single into left to drive in one and knot the game 1-1.
After each team went down 1-2-3 in the fifth, the Golden Eagles took their first lead in the sixth. Matzko hit the leadoff hitter but a failed sacrifice bunt attempt and a fielder's choice left a runner on first with two outs. St. Joseph's followed with four consecutive hits, a triple and three singles, to score three runs and take a 4-1 lead.
Smayda was also robbed by the umpires for the second consecutive day after her home run was called foul on Tuesday. With St. Joseph's batting up 3-1 in the sixth, Smayda appeared to end the inning with a sensational diving stab on a sinking liner only to find the umpires signaling the ball was trapped when she reached her feet. The next St. Joseph's hitter singled in the Golden Eagles' fourth run.
The Garnet put two in scoring position with two outs in the sixth on a Pitkin single and Emma Madarasz double, her first collegiate hit, but the rally ended there and Swarthmore was set down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Despite scoring just one run against St. Joseph's, the Garnet continues to excel at the plate in the early part of 2012. Smayda, who led the team in hits last season, already has half of her 2011 output. Pitkin has equaled her 2011 total of eight RBI and Cushing has half of her 2011 doubles. Five Garnet players have at least 10 total bases, led by Smayda with 23, after no one had more than 30 for Swarthmore in 2011.
The Garnet concludes Spring Break play on Thursday with a pair of games against Eastern and Southern Vermont.