Garnet Sweeps Cavaliers Behind Four Homers
SWARTHMORE, PA – Entering the week, the Swarthmore softball team was in the top half of the Centennial Conference in every significant offensive category except home runs. The bats had plenty of long-balls in them on Thursday as the Garnet hit four home runs, two shy of last year's team total, in a doubleheader sweep of Cabrini in non-conference play. Swarthmore won the first 10-1 behind the dominant pitching of sophomore Melissa O'Connor before the Garnet came from behind in the sixth inning of game two to claim an 11-5 win.
The Garnet entered the day outscoring their opponents 33-11 in the first inning this year and Thursday proved no different. After O'Connor worked out of a runner-on-third, one-out jam in the top of the first, sophomore Nicole Aaron doubled to right-center before junior Danielle Seltzer hit a mammoth shot out to left for the early 2-0 lead.
The visitors responded in the top of the second with a leadoff homerun from catcher Rebecca Miles, but that was the last hit that Cabrini had in the opener as O'Connor settled into absolute brilliance.
The Garnet grabbed that run back in their half of the second. Senior Elizabeth Cushing singled through the left side and freshman Chelsea Matzko sacrificed her to second. Senior Marley Spector followed with a warning-track double to straightaway center to plate Cushing and give the Garnet a 3-1 advantage.
Swarthmore doubled their total in the third thanks in part to a pair of Cabrini errors. Aaron led off with a single up the middle and Seltzer hit a comebacker to the mound. But the throw to first sailed into right field allowing the runners to advance to second and third. As the relay back to the infield trickled away, Aaron broke for home and the throw to the catcher rolled away up the first baseline, allowing Seltzer to score as well. With one out, Cushing, second in Division III in doubles per game, hit a two-bagger down the left-field line and Matzko advanced her to third. With Cushing in scoring position and two-outs, Spector came through again, this time with a RBI single into right as the Garnet took a 6-1 lead.
A pair of two-run homeruns in the bottom of the fourth gave Swarthmore the 10-1 final. Sophomore Jesslyn Lammerts singled to right-center to lead off the frame before Aaron pulled an inside pitch over the fence in left. Danielle Seltzer continued the hit-parade with a clean single up the middle and after junior Rose Pitkin replaced her with a fielder's choice, Cushing cleared the fence, taking an outside pitch to right center as the Garnet hit double-figures.
O'Connor worked around a pair of errors in the top of the fifth to close the game. In five innings, she allowed just the one hit while striking out eight.
The nightcap started quickly for the Garnet on both sides of the ball as sophomore Sarina Lowe set down the first six Cabrini hitters and Swarthmore built a 2-0 lead with a single run in the first and second. Smayda led off the bottom of the first with a double to left center and moved to third on a Lammerts groundout. With two outs, Seltzer continued her monster day with a hard single to right for another RBI, number five of the afternoon.
The second inning was nearly identical. Cushing hit her second double of the day down the left-field line and moved to third on a groundout. With two outs, freshman Laurie Sellars singled through the left side to plate Cushing and give the Garnet a 2-0 lead.
Cabrini clawed a run back in the third with one out. A double up the right-center alley and an infield single put runners on the corners and leadoff hitter Sammy Thompson hit a grounder to short to score the runner.
Both pitchers began to settle in with just one additional run scoring before the sixth. Swarthmore regained its two run lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to the individual effort of junior Sam Bennett. With two outs, Bennett dragged a couldn't-have-placed-it-better bunt up the first-base line for a single and stole second and third. The throw to Thompson covering third went wide and into left allowing Bennett to score.
Through the Garnet was seemingly in control with Lowe having retired nine of ten batters, the top of the sixth proved disaster. A hit batter and a pair of singles up the middle loaded the bases with no outs for the Cavaliers and O'Connor came in to replace Lowe. O'Connor struck out the first batter she faced and induced a fielder's choice grounder with the runner gunned down at home on a bang-bang play for the second out. But with two outs, Stephanie Diegel hit a fly ball that just kept traveling to center field for a grand slam turning a two-run deficit into a two-run Cabrini lead.
But Swarthmore was not to be deterred and exploded in the bottom of the sixth with eight runs on seven hits. Rose Pitkin doubled to the wall in right-center and after Cushing lined out to third, freshman Emma Madarasz hit a grounder to the left side. Dancing off second, Rose forced a look from the shortstop and Madarasz was able to reach to put runners on first and second. Matzko pinch-hit for Bennett and with two-strikes, lined an RBI up the middle to cut the deficit to one. The next batter Sellers earned her team-leading seventh walk and a wild pitch on the fourth ball scored Madarasz for the game-tying run.
The Garnet was hardly done. Smayda singled up the middle to score another run before Lammerts grounded into a fielder's choice leaving Swarthmore with runners on first and second and two out. But with two outs, the Garnet hit three consecutive extra-base hits to blow the game open. Aaron doubled up the left-center alley, Seltzer doubled in two more runs on a drive to center, and Pitkin hit a no-doubt-about-it blast to right-center to complete the outburst and put the Garnet ahead 11-5.
In the seventh, O'Connor left no doubt allowing just a two-out single before ending the game with a comebacker.
With the wins, Swarthmore improves to 10-8 on the season. The team visits Gettysburg for a Centennial double-header on Saturday.