NEW YORK — After playing its first 18 games of the season on the road, the Columbia softball team (5-13) opens the home season with a non-conference doubleheader against Monmouth (6-14) on Friday. First pitch from the Columbia Softball Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.
“It’s good to be back and we’re excited to play our first home games,” said head coach Jennifer Teague. “We had some ups and downs on the spring break trip, but I think we got better towards the end of the week and we ended on a higher note. I liked the energy I saw and I thought we were coming together more as a team.”
Fans who can’t attend Friday’s doubleheader can keep up by following the Columbia softball team on Twitter, @CULionsSoftball. Live stats will be provided by GoColumbiaLions.com.
GRZYBEK NAMED PLAYER AND ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Sommer Grzybek was named Ivy League Co-Player and Rookie of the Week on Monday. The first-year out of Cooper City, Florida, hit .450 (9 for 20) and slugged .800 through seven games, including two triples, a home run, six runs scored and five RBIs. Her two-run triple in Friday’s game against George Mason plated the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth, helping the Lions to a, 9-8, victory. She added a two-run home run as part of a three-RBI game on Saturday against Jacksonville. Grzybek is hitting .327, slugging .600 and has an Ivy League-leading 11 RBIs on the year.
SPRING BREAK WRAP UP
Columbia spent 10 days in the state of Florida for spring break, playing 10 games and posting a 3-7 record The trip began March 11-12 at the Stetson Westin Invitational, where the Lions hit three home runs to earn a thrilling, 7-6, victory over North Dakota State. Junior Madison Gott tagged the go-ahead, two-run blast with two down in the bottom of the sixth that sealed the win. Columbia took tournament host Stetson to extra innings in the nightcap, but fell, 4-3. Manhattan bested the Lions on Sunday, 9-1, in five innings. Sunday’s second game against Colgate was cancelled due to weather.
Columbia left DeLand to play its final seven games of the trip in Jacksonville. The Lions took on North Florida in a Tuesday doubleheader, but were held off the scoreboard as the Ospreys won both games by a score of 8-0.
Five games at last weekend’s Jacksonville Invitational (March 17-19) wrapped up the trip. Columbia won two of three against George Mason, splitting Friday’s doubleheader before taking Saturday’s rubber match, 6-5, in eight innings. First-year Genny Soltesz provided the go-ahead single in the top of the eighth. Columbia played a second eight-inning game that day against tournament host Jacksonville, but came up on the losing end, 8-7. First-year Sommer Grzybek blasted her third home run of the season and Columbia scored four runs in the top of the seventh to force extras, but the Dolphins won on a sac fly in the bottom of the eighth. JU took the final game of the weekend, 7-1, on Sunday.
Columbia has hit 14 home runs in 18 games, ranking among the top 25 percent of teams in the NCAA in home runs per game (0.78). Junior Madison Gott leads the power attack with four home runs on the campaign and is two away from tying Maggie Johnson (2008-11) for Columbia’s all-time career record of 18. Gott is also among the top 50 in the NCAA in batting average (.439) and inside the top 100 in slugging percentage (.702). First-year Sommer Grzybek has hit three long balls and boasts a .600 slugging percentage. Gott and Grzybek each have 11 RBIs to their credits, which leads the Ivy League.
Nine of Columbia’s 18 games have either been decided by one run or gone to extra innings. The Lions hold a 3-6 record in such games, earning their first one-run victory of the season over North Dakota State, 7-6, at the Stetson Westin Invitational. Last weekend, the Lions played three one-run games at the Jacksonville Invitational, earning two such victories over George Mason. Saturday, the Lions played back-to-back games that were decided by one run and went to extra innings, defeating George Mason, 6-5, and falling to Jacksonville, 8-7.
All seven of Columbia’s freshmen have made their way into the starting lineup at one point this season. Leading the way offensively is Sommer Grzybek, who has started all 18 games and is hitting .327 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. Amber Swinarski has started 10 games, including five of the last six, and is hitting .241. Swinarski hit her first collegiate home run in last Friday’s second game against George Mason, slapping one over the fence in right-center. Genny Soltesz picked up her first two collegiate hits in Saturday’s, 6-5, extra-inning victory over George Mason, including the game-winning RBI in the eighth. Soltesz has started each of the last three games. Amanda Nishihira cracked her first collegiate home run as part of Saturday's win over the Patriots, blasting a three-run shot to left. Nishihira has started the last four games behind the plate.
In the circle, rookies Madison Canby and Erin Gallo have combined to start each of the last four games. Gallo owns a team-best 3.05 ERA in 18 1-3 innings pitched. She made her first collegiate start on Saturday against George Mason, going six innings and allowing just two earned runs. Gallo has a team-high two saves. Canby has seen the most work of any of Columbia’s pitchers this season, tossing 45 innings and striking out 22. Canby (2-4) has a 5.91 ERA.
Monmouth (6-14) went 3-2 last weekend at the Clearwater Parks & Rec Spring Break Invitational. The Hawks won their first three games of the tournament over Chattanooga, Bethune-Cookman and Yale, before being handed a one-run loss by North Florida and a, 10-1, five-inning loss to Missouri. Senior Justene Reyes leads the team with a .377 batting average, five doubles and two home runs. The Hawks rank 17th nationally in doubles per game (1.65) as 10 different players already have multiple doubles on the season. Junior Amanda Riley owns a team-best 5.27 ERA, followed closely behind by senior Sydney Underhill (5.72). Riley and Underhill have combined to start 19 of Monmouth’s 20 games this season.