NEW YORK – The Columbia softball team heads to the nation’s capital for the District Classic this weekend, hosted by Georgetown. The Lions are scheduled for five games, taking on UMBC, Virginia, Georgetown, Iona and Howard.
Fans can track all five of Columbia’s games this weekend by accessing the live stat links at GoColumbiaLions.com.
Two of Columbia’s players will battle their sisters on Saturday at the District Classic. Saturday morning, senior Madison Gott takes on her sister, Olivia Gott, who is a junior catcher for Virginia. That afternoon, sophomore pitcher Erin Gallo goes up against her sister, Deirdre, who is a freshman outfielder for Georgetown. Look for a video feature on #SisterSaturday which will be posted to GoColumbiaLions.com.
PAGANE GOES YARD IN FIRST AB
First-year Maria Pagane began her collegiate career with a home run in her first at-bat on Friday at the FAU Tournament. She came to the plate after sophomore Genny Soltesz reached to begin the first and launched a no-doubter to put the Lions on top of 2017 NCAA Regional participant Texas State, 2-0. Pagane hit .294 and slugged .529 on the weekend and was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll. It marks the second-consecutive season a first-year Lion made their first collegiate hit a home run. Sommer Grzybek did it in the second game last season against Albany.
CHALLENGING OPENING WEEKEND
Columbia (0-5) opened the 2018 season last weekend at the FAU “Strike-Out-Cancer” Tournament. The Lions went up against three teams that qualified for last season’s NCAA Regionals, facing off against Texas State, Tulsa and Illinois-Chicago. The Lions took a 2-0 lead over Texas State, who was a No. 2 seed in last year’s College Station Regional, in the season opener, but the Bobcats took the lead with a four-run third and held on. Columbia battled back from 7-0 down later that day against Florida Atlantic to pull within 8-6 and bring the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but came up just shy of completing the comeback. Saturday was highlighted by a one-run game against the defending Horizon League champions, Illinois-Chicago. The Lions led, 2-1, after an inning and, 4-3, heading to the fourth, but the Flames tied it up before plating the go-ahead run in the sixth. Columbia did well to hang around with Texas State on Sunday, falling behind 7-0 through two innings but not getting run-ruled. A three-run fourth put Columbia back in it before Texas State tacked on three in the seventh to pull away.
Columbia returns four All-Ivy League selections from last season. Sophomore Sommer Grzybek landed second-team honors, while senior Madison Gott, junior Bonnie Schipper and sophomore Madison Canby were All-Ivy honorable mentions. Grzybek led the Ivy League with 10 home runs, driving in 35 and breaking Columbia’s single-season record in slugging percentage (.690). Senior Madison Gott is Columbia’s career record holder in home runs (22) and RBIs (84) entering the year. She hit 10 home runs last year and set program single-season records in batting average (.381), hits (59), total bases (102) and RBIs (40). Among those, she led the Ivy League in hits, home runs, RBIs and total bases. Sophomore pitcher Madison Canby posted a 12-11 record with 4.22 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 146.0 innings pitched. She led the Ivy League and tied the program record in appearances (34), while ranking No. 2 in the Ivy League in wins (12), starts (24) and innings pitched (146.0). Canby was also among the top-five in strikeouts (64), complete games (9) and saves (3). Junior Bonnie Schipper hit .304 with 35 hits, eight doubles, a triple and three home runs. She scored 17 runs and drove in 20 while slugging .470 with eight multi-hit games, including seven with multiple RBIs.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
UMBC (1-9) has lost five straight heading into the weekend, including two extra-inning losses at last weekend’s tournament in Lafayette, Louisiana. The Retrievers’ lone win came Feb. 18 at East Carolina, 6-5. Maddie Daigneau leads the offense with a .345 batting average, including 10 hits and three triples. Valerie Hammett has started five games in the circle and has a 5.88 ERA, striking out five in 25.0 innings pitched. Columbia and UMBC have never played each other in softball.
Georgetown (3-11) went 1-4 at last weekend’s Chanticleer Showdown in Conway, S.C. (hosted by Coastal Carolina). All five games were close, but the Hoyas fell to Pitt, 2-0, and Coastal Carolina, 7-5, on Friday, before redeeming themselves with a, 7-5, victory over the Panthers to start Saturday’s action. They ended with a four-run loss to St. Joe’s and a, 2-1, defeat to the Chanticleers. Theresa Kane has started all 14 games and leads the offense with a .320 batting average (min. 10 AB). Anna Brooks Pacha has started six games in the circle, tossing five complete games and boasting 2-4 record with a 3.52 ERA. She has struck out 35 in just over 38 innings pitched.
Virginia (6-10) went 2-3 last weekend at the UNCG Invitational. The Cavaliers took a doubleheader over Appalachian State, 4-3 and 2-1, before falling to UNCG twice and Seton Hall. They most recently played on Wednesday but were thumped by Campbell, 16-2, in what was the Cavs’ home opener. Catcher Olivia Gott leads the team in hitting at .375, including a home run and five RBIs. Lacy Smith (3-3) heads the pitching with a 3.70 ERA striking out 24 in just over 41 innings. Columbia is 0-2 all-time against Virginia, dropping two in Charlottesville in 2010 by scores of 9-3 and 8-0.
Iona (1-4) just got under way last weekend and won one of five games at the Cougar Classic, hosted by the College of Charleston. The Gaels defeated the host Cougars, 8-7, with a six-run fifth in a game that lasted over three hours. Kimmie Chiapparelli is hitting .400 through five games with a double and two walks. Cierra DiGullio owns the only two home runs. Alayna Evans is 0-2, but owns a 1.74 ERA in 10 1-3 innings pitched. She has struck out 10. Columbia leads the all-time series 13-9 against Iona. The series started in 2001. Columbia swept a doubleheader by scores of 12-9 and 7-0 the last time the two teams met in 2014.
Howard (2-12) has lost six straight, falling in doubleheaders at North Carolina Central, Elon and George Washington. They were outscored 46-3 across those six games. The Bison’s had won two straight over Maryland Eastern Shore, 17-4, and North Carolina A&T, 11-4, prior to the start of the losing streak. They are led by Trinity Gibbs who boasts a .343 batting average with 12 hits and three doubles. Mackenzi Steele has started five and appeared in nine games in the circle with a 5.39 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 36 1-3 innings. Sunday marks the first meeting Columbia and Howard.