BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Columbia softball team played two of the nation’s top programs in Friday’s season-opening doubleheader, but was defeated, 6-2, by Texas State and, 8-6, by Florida Atlantic. The Lions are competing through Sunday at FAU’s “Strike-Out-Cancer” Tournament.
First-year Maria Pagane homered in her very first collegiate at-bat, belting a two-run shot in the top of the first of Friday’s opener against Texas State. Pagane’s shot held up until the third, when the Bobcats (7-4) scored four runs to take the lead and hold on.
Florida Atlantic (7-6) jumped ahead 7-0 through an inning-plus in the nightcap, but Columbia rallied with two in the second and two in the third to get back in the game. The Owls added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, which proved all the more important when the Lions scored twice and brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom half. FAU was able to escape with the win on a strikeout.
“I’m encouraged by what I saw today,” fourth-year head coach Jennifer Teague said. “There are things we need to clean up, but I’m encouraged by the fight and maturity I saw out there. We shook out some first-game jitters and we’re in a good place.”
Sophomore Amber Swinarski had a three-hit, two-RBI game to lead the comeback efforts against FAU. Sophomore Erin Gallo entered the circle with the Lions trailing 7-0 and quieted the Owl bats to just three hits and an unearned run over six innings. Gallo struck out a career-high six.
“Erin did amazing,” Teague added. “A switch went off and she was spinning the ball with great control. I can’t mention her and not mention our assistant coach, Cassie Vondrak. I thought Cassie did a great job calling the game for Erin. I didn’t question a single pitch.”
The Lions play two more Saturday against Tulsa and Illinois-Chicago. Both teams advanced to last year’s NCAA Regionals.
|Madison Canby (L, 0-1)||4.0||5||5||4||4||2|
Columbia scored two runs before Texas State ever came to bat, but the Bobcats broke through with four runs in the third to go on for the 6-2 victory.
Maria Pagane sent a jolt through the Columbia dugout when she stepped up for her first collegiate at-bat and launched a 1-2 pitch over the fence. She drove in sophomore Genny Soltesz on the blast, who walked against TSU starter Meagan King.
Sophomore Madison Canby got the game-one start in the circle. She worked through a pair of two-out walks in the first and a leadoff single in the second to bring the Lions to the third with the two-run lead intact.
Canby got the first two batters out in the third before a two-out rally ensued. An infield single and two walks loaded the bases for Tara Oltmann, who cleared the bags with a single to left. The ball got away from senior Olivia Parker, allowing all three baserunners to score. Bailee Carter singled through the middle to make it 4-2.
The Lions had a golden opportunity to respond in the fourth, but stranded the bases loaded. Sophomore Sommer Grzybek and junior Bonnie Schipper were sacrificed into scoring position. Grzybek was gunned down at home on a grounder to short, but the Lions loaded the bases with two down as sophomore Amanda Nishihira worked a walk. TSU went to the bullpen for Krista Jacobs, who got pinch-hitter Kiana McCaul to strike out swinging to end the threat. Jacobs went on to pick up the win (2-0).
Texas State tacked on one in the fifth and another in the sixth to enter the final inning with a four-run lead. The first two Lions reached base, but McKenna Fryar was able to shut the door.
|Maura Lynch (L, 0-1)||1.0||6||7||5||1||0|
Florida Atlantic got to Columbia starter Maura Lynch for seven runs over an inning-plus, but Columbia dug in and nearly came all the way back before dropping the nightcap of Friday’s season-opening doubleheader, 8-6.
The Owls plated four runs on three hits in the first followed by three more runs on three hits in the second. The Lions committed two errors in the process, allowing two of those runs to cross the plate unearned. Lynch was replaced by sophomore Erin Gallo, who settled in to strike out the final three batters of the inning.
Kelsey Morrison came in to pitch for FAU starter Mia Olson with a seven-run lead in the second. Columbia took advantage of the change, striking for two runs on two-out rallies in both the second and third innings. Sophomore Amber Swinarski and first-year Max Ortega singled with two outs in the second and came around to score off an FAU fielding error. Senior Madison Gott scored in the third on a ball hit to right by sophomore Sommer Grzybek that popped out of the glove of Sami Williams. Taylor Troutt plated Grzybek with an RBI single up the middle to cut the lead to 7-4.
FAU went back to Morrison in the fourth to settle things down, but did not add any insurance over the middle innings. Gallo was dealing, retiring seven of nine batters on her way to a career-high six strikeouts. An unearned run came across in the seventh but Gallo limited the damage by stranding the bases loaded.
Pagane got her second hit of the day to lead off the Columbia half of the seventh. She advanced to third on a Grzybek double down the left-field line before Swinarski brought them both home with a two-out single. Ortega stepped up representing the tying run but struck out swinging to end the game.