|Erin Gallo (W, 6-4)||6.2||6||2||2||3||7|
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Ivy League’s most powerful offense was on display again Friday afternoon, as the Columbia softball team hit three home runs – all in the third inning – to win its series opener at Brown, 8-2.
Columbia (15-16, 7-6 Ivy) put up a six-spot with six consecutive extra-base hits to begin the third inning. Senior Madison Gott and sophomore Sommer Grzybek started it with back-to-back homers to left. The Lions kept at it with three more extra-base hits before sophomore Amanda Nishihira ballooned the lead to 8-0 with her Ivy League-leading seventh home run of the season on a shot to dead center.
Brown (8-19, 2-8 Ivy) scraped across a run in the fifth to keep the game alive. The Bears plated their only other run on a bases-loaded walk in the seventh, but never brought the tying run to the plate as Columbia moved back above .500 in Ivy League play.
“We were seeing the ball really well and were patient in our at-bats,” said Gott, who holds Columbia’s career records with 28 home runs and 110 RBIs. “Any Ivy League win is really important with how the format is set up. If we can take this series and play well the rest of the year, hopefully we can take one of the top two spots for the championship series.”
Gott’s home run came as part of 2 for 3 day at the plate. Senior Taylor Troutt also went 2 for 3, while Columbia’s No. 2-8 hitters all collected at least one hit. Grzybek and first-year Max Ortega drove in two runs apiece.
Columbia had just one hit in the first inning but was able to push two runs across. Brown starter Meghan Wimmer walked first-year Maria Pagane and sophomore Amber Swinarski before Gott loaded the bases with a single to center. Grzybek was able to get under a pitch and fly it deep enough to center for Pagane to tag up and score. Wimmer hit the next batter, Taylor Troutt, to reload the bases, and then hit first-year Max Ortega with the next pitch to make it a 2-0 lead.
Brown loaded the bases in the bottom half with only one out after Columbia starter Erin Gallo walked back-to-back batters. However, the sophomore was able to strike out her second of the inning for the second out. Swinarski made a nice running catch down the left-field line to retire the side.
The Lions surged ahead in the third with six runs to take a commanding lead. Gott skied the first pitch from Wimmer deep to left and just far enough to clear the wall. Two pitches later, Sommer Grzybek absolutely crushed her third home run with no doubt to left, increasing the lead to 4-0.
The Lions kept at it as Taylor Troutt doubled down the left-field line and first-year Max Ortega hit an opposite-field triple off the base of the wall. Ortega’s triple easily scored Troutt and ended Wimmer’s day in favor of Emily Waters. Wimmer (3-6) was charged with the loss, surrendering six earned runs on five hits.
The pitching change didn’t slow things down one bit. Junior Alexandra Yule made it five consecutive extra-base hits to begin the inning with an RBI double to the left-centerfield gap. Nishihira followed with the third home run of the inning, clearing the 220 mark in dead center to put the Lions on top, 8-0.
Gallo got comfortable, retiring the side in order in the fourth and sixth innings on the way to tying her career-high with seven strikeouts. Brown pushed across a run in the fifth to extend the game and ended Gallo’s day one out short of a complete game, but the sophomore took the win to improve to 6-4, allowing just two runs on six hits while walking three.
The final two games of the series will be contested Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m.