Softball Tournament Opener, 3-2 in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Villanova softball team opened its season this weekend with a trip to Jacksonville, Fla. for the River City Leadoff Tournament. After five games, the Wildcats sit at 3-2 on the season.

Friday Action:

Villanova: 5 San Diego State: 4

Paige Rauch threw six innings of three run ball (1 ER), and freshman Chloe Smith hit her first collegiate home run, as Villanova defeated San Diego State on Friday, 5-4, for their first win of the season.

Action began in the fourth inning, when Smith homered to left field. Next inning, the ‘Cats scored four runs, courtesy of a RBI single from Smith, a throwing error that scored sophomore Megan Kern, and a two-RBI double from senior Caroline Jones.  

The Aztecs scored their only earned run off of Rauch in the sixth inning, an RBI single from Jessica Cordola. A throwing error and a passed ball allowed San Diego State to cut the lead to 5-3 by the end of the sixth.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Aztecs were able to get their first two runners on board. Alexa Schultz hit an RBI single, but that was the only offense SDSU was able to create.

Rauch, who was recently ranked No. 50 in Softball America’s Top 100 College Players List, had three strikeouts through six innings of work. She earned her first win of the season, while junior Anissa Amarillas earned her first save. 

Saturday Action:

San Diego State: 8 Villanova: 4

Villanova: 10 Jacksonville: 2

On Saturday, a four-run seventh inning pushed the Aztecs past the ‘Cats in their second match-up of the tournament, 8-4. 

Villanova tied the score at three in the third when junior Angela Giampolo and Rauch scored. After San Diego State scored four runs to lead 8-3 in the last inning, Rauch hit her first home run of the season to bring the score within four. The Aztecs were able to hold ‘Nova scoreless for the rest of the inning, coming away with the win to split the series.

In the second game of the day on Saturday, an offensive onslaught lead the Wildcats past host Jacksonville, 10-2.

Rauch earned her second win of the tournament, allowing two earned runs in five innings on only two hits. On the offensive end, Smith led all batters with three hits, one run, and two RBIs. Giampolo, Rauch and Jones also registered two RBIs. 

The ‘Cats held a 10-0 lead going into the fifth inning, when JU scored on a RBI single from Caroline Watson, and Madison Kennedy scored on a passed ball.

Those two runs were not enough for Jacksonville, as the ‘Cats were able to win in only five innings. 

Sunday Action:

Villanova: 6 Nicholls State: 0

Jacksonville: 5 Villanova: 1

On Sunday, the final day of the tournament, Rauch’s two homers, along with five scoreless innings, carried the team past Nicholl’s State, 6-0.

Rauch hit a two-run home run in the first inning, giving the ‘Cats an early lead. Later that inning, an RBI single from Megan Kern, who had three hits in the game, scored Caroline Jones. A throwing error allowed senior Becky Ducar to score in the fourth inning, and another two-run home run from Rauch later in the fourth sealed the game for the Wildcats. Rauch now has three home runs on the season thus far. 

Rauch allowed only two hits through five scoreless innings, earning her third win of the season. Senior Gabby Wenn pitched the final two innings, securing the team’s first shutout win.

A sixth inning comeback for Jacksonville spoiled Villanova’s last game of the tournament, as an absence of offense allowed JU to come away with the win, 5-1.

Following five scoreless innings for both teams, the ‘Cats got on the board first in the top of the sixth when Kern grounded out to shortstop, scoring freshman Dani Dabroski. In the bottom half of the inning, the offense came alive for the Dolphins. Following a RBI single and double that gave JU a 2-1 lead, Jacqueline Hodskins hit a three-run home run to blow the game open. Sophomore pitcher Sara Kennedy was handed her first loss of the season. 

Villanova finished the weekend with a 3-2 overall record. Up next, the ‘Cats will travel to Orlando, Florida for the UCF Tournament.