MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — The Columbia softball team opened the 2017 season Friday afternoon at the Madeira Beach Invitational, dropping games to Army, 8-0, and Albany, 5-4.
Six different Lions recorded hits on the afternoon, including the first collegiate hits for rookies Sommer Grzybek and Amber Swinarski. Grzybek’s first hit was memorable, launching a solo home run against Albany. She and junior Taylor Troutt each ended the day with two RBIs. Swinarski scored two of Columbia’s four runs and reached base three of her six plate appearances.
Two more first-years, Erin Gallo and Madison Canby, made their collegiate debuts in the circle. Canby started against Albany and tossed four innings of one-run ball before the Great Danes got to her in the fifth. First-year Amanda Nishihira also made her collegiate debut as a pinch runner.
Game 1 Recap: Army 8 – Columbia 0 (F/5)
The Lions were held hitless and had some first-game defensive jitters in an 8-0, five-inning loss to Army West Point.
Columbia’s best scoring chance came in the top of the first when Swinarski reached on a hit-by-pitch and advanced to third on a pair of passed balls. Sommer Grzybek stepped up for her first collegiate plate appearance with two down, but grounded out to short to retire the side.
Senior Tonia Wu got the start in the circle and kept Columbia in the game through three innings, allowing three unearned runs. Army (3-4) got to Wu for three earned runs on four one-out hits in the fourth. Five straight Black Knights reached base before first-year Erin Gallo relieved Wu to make her collegiate debut. Gallo recorded the final two outs of the inning, allowing just one inherited runner to cross the plate.
The Lions had another chance to get on the board with two on and two out in the fifth. Sophomore Reilly Metzger came to bat, but hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Columbia’s fifth error resulted in Army’s final run, ending the game in the bottom of the fifth. Army’s Renee Poirier tossed a five-inning no-hitter, striking out two and walking four.
Game 2 Recap: Albany 5 – Columbia 4 (F)
A two-run lead slipped away thanks to Albany’s (2-0) four-run fifth as the Lions dropped the back end of their season-opening doubleheader, 5-4.
After being held without a hit in game one, Columbia’s bats came to life with two runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead. Metzger and Swinarski both reached base to start the inning and advanced into scoring position with a well-executed sac bunt by junior Madison Gott. Grzybek came to bat and drove in Metzger for the first run of the season. Junior Taylor Troutt followed with a sac bunt that scored Swinarski.
Columbia tacked on a run the third when Grzybek deposited her first collegiate home run over the fence in center.
First-year Madison Canby got the start and pitched beautifully through 4.1 innings. She ran into trouble with one out in the fifth, as seven straight Albany batters reached base. A walk, four singles and a double plated four runs to put the Danes up, 5-3. Albany’s Mackenzie Cleary then reached on an error, which forced Columbia head coach Jennifer Teague to change pitchers. Game one’s starter, Tonia Wu, entered and got Kelly Spear to strike out swinging to retire the side.
Columbia got one back in the bottom half of the inning when Troutt hit a two-out double to right-center, scoring Swinarski. The Lions had a great chance to tie or take the lead with runners on second and third with only one out in the sixth, but could not bring either runner across.
Columbia takes on Eastern Michigan and Kent State for the final day of the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational. First pitch against EMU is scheduled for 11 a.m.