NEW YORK – The Columbia softball team (3-6) flies to California to play six games over the course of five days, beginning this weekend at the UC Riverside Classic. The Lions begin the tournament Saturday with a doubleheader against Boise State and tournament-host UC Riverside. Two more games are scheduled for Sunday morning as Columbia squares off with North Dakota State and Colgate.
GOLDEN STATE HOMECOMING
Six Lions call the state of California home, which include senior Nina Mandracchia (San Jose, Calif.), junior Jordan Townsend (Yorba Linda, Calif.), sophomores Amanda Nishihira (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Emma Trussell (Chula Vista, Calif.), as well as first-years Max Ortega (Highland, Calif.) and Kiana McCaul (Los Gatos, Calif.). Of the half-dozen, Townsend, Nishihira and Ortega hail from the Los Angeles area, where the Lions will be spending their Spring Break trip. Ortega (20 miles) and Townsend (30 miles) are the closest to Riverside.
GOTT CYCLES HER WAY TO PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior infielder Madison Gott was named Ivy League Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Monday after hitting .471 and slugging 1.059 to help Columbia post a 3-1 record at the District Classic. The highlight of her weekend came Sunday, when she hit for the only known cycle in the softball program’s 19 years of existence as Columbia rolled by Howard, 12-1, in five innings. Gott went 4-for-4 in the game with a career-high five RBIs, finishing the weekend with three doubles, two triples, a home run, five runs scored and seven RBIs.
PAGANE TABBED ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
First-year infielder Maria Pagane drove in five runs and scored six through Columbia’s four games in the nation’s capital to be named Ivy League Rookie of the Week. She homered in back-to-back games as part of Saturday’s sweep over Virginia and Georgetown, including a 2-for-5, 3-RBI performance against the Hoyas. She put the game away with a three-run blast in the fifth. The rookie leads the team with three homers this season.
Two of Columbia’s players played against the teams their sisters play for last Saturday at the District Classic, and the Lions came away with wins in each game. Saturday morning, senior Madison Gott took on her sister, Olivia Gott, who is a junior catcher for Virginia. The Lions scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh, sparked by a leadoff double by Gott, to tie game and force extra innings. Sophomore Amanda Nishihira won it on a walk-off homer in the ninth. That afternoon, sophomore pitcher Erin Gallo went up against her sister, Deirdre, who is a freshman outfielder for Georgetown. Gallo started the game and Columbia backed her up with six runs in the second inning on the way to a 10-4 victory.
PAGANE GOES YARD IN FIRST AB
First-year Maria Pagane began her collegiate career with a home run in her first at-bat in the season-opening 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 opened the 2018 season 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. 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 hold Tulsa, a No. 2 seed in last year’s Norman regional, to four runs in a 4-0 loss. The Lions hung around with Texas State again 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
Boise State (10-8) kicked off the UCR Classic on Thursday with a doubleheader split against the Highlanders. The Broncos scored 18 runs on 15 hits for an 18-8 victory in game one, but were shut out on just four hits, 3-0, in game two. Rebekah Cervates had 6 RBIs in the game-one victory and leads the team with 18 on the season. She is one of four Broncos hitting over .400 entering the tournament, along with Ashlynn Adams (.417) and Kora Wade (.482). Boise is hitting .333 as a team. They have a plethora of pitching, led by Micaela Leal’s 1.87 ERA in eight appearances spanning 15 innings. Gianna Mancha (4-2) has tossed three complete games, striking out 35 across 31 innings pitched.
UC Riverside (16-7) went 4-0 at the tournament it hosted last weekend, defeating Saint Mary’s twice, Stony Brook and Brown. The Highlanders outscored their opponents 31-5 through the weekend and began this weekend’s UCR Classic with a split against Boise State on Thursday. They won game two, 3-0, behind freshman Hayley Dolcini’s four-hit shutout. Dolcini boasted a 2.33 ERA through the team’s first 15 games of the season, behind Tayler Misfeldt’s 1.86 mark in over 48 innings pitched. Jenna Curtan, Sarah Parten and Seanna Garewal were all hitting over .400 entering the month of March.
North Dakota State (9-5) has won five straight heading into the UCR Classic, including a 4-0 mark at last weekend’s Duke Inaugural Tournament. The Bison defeated Duke, Yale, Kent State and Lehigh over the weekend, outscoring their opponents 25-6 and earning two shutouts. The winning streak began with a 9-1 win over Cal State Fullerton down in San Diego two weeks prior. Weather cancelled the tournament they were supposed to play at Ole Miss (Feb. 23-25). Bre Beatty is hitting .438 with a team-best 13 RBIs through 14 games. Jacquelyn Sertic (7-3) boasts an impressive 1.69 ERA, tossing eight complete games in eight starts. She has punched out 79 in 62 innings pitched. Last season, the Bison went to the Norman Regional and earned a stunning, 3-2, win over host Oklahoma in the opening game. The Sooners eventually eliminated NDSU in the loser’s bracket and went on to claim the national championship. Columbia defeated NDSU, 7-6, last season at the Stetson Westin Invitational.
Colgate (1-9) lost its first eight games of the season before defeating Brown, 6-4, in eight innings last Saturday at Stetson’s tournament. The Raiders have been shut out four times and held to two or fewer runs in eight of their 10 games. Three players are hitting over .300, led by Virginia Irby’s .375 average. Holly Geranen is hitting .321 and has accounted for all three of her team’s home runs, along with a team-leading five RBIs. Jessica Hay holds a team-best 3.45 ERA in the circle through 15 2-3 innings pitched. Kyle Griswold has tossed the most innings, but is 0-4 with a 6.97 ERA with 17 walks in 20 2-3 innings pitched. Columbia and Colgate were supposed to meet at last season’s Stetson Westin Invitational, but the game was cancelled due to weather.