WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Holy Cross softball team opened Patriot League action on Saturday with a doubleheader versus Army in West Point, N.Y. The Crusaders suffered an 8-0 loss in five innings to start the day and the Black Knights held on for a 1-0 victory in game two. Sophomore pitcher Julia Barrett (Gardner, Mass.) allowed just four hits in the nightcap but the Crusaders were unable to generate any offense and began conference play with back-to-back losses.
The Black Knights took the lead early when Alexis AuBuchon hit a two-out double to left center field off Crusader freshman pitcher Tori Cheske (Thomaston, Conn.) in the bottom of the first to give Army the 2-0 advantage. Army played small ball in the bottom of the second after Clara Navarro singled to lead off the inning. She advanced to third on back-to-back sacrifice bunts and scored on a two-out single by Alex Reynolds to make the score 3-0.
The Crusaders made its first threat in the top of the third inning. Black Knight pitcher Morgan Lashley had struck out seven of the first eight batters she faced before freshman Ashleigh Vargas (Wakefield, Mass.) reached on an error by the short stop. Sophomore Alex Gustafson (Medford, Mass.) walked and senior Camille Trainor (Worcester, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice as Gustafson was retired at second. Trainor stole second to put two runners in scoring position but Lashley was able to record her eighth strike out and end the threat.
Junior Sam Fregenti (Melville, N.Y.) singled in the top of the fourth and freshman Cassie Girvalo (Putnam Valley, N.Y.) was called upon to pinch run. Cheske registered her second hit of the season, advancing Girvalo to third, but once again Lashley struck out the final batter of the inning to escape with no damage.
The Crusaders recorded two quick outs defensively in the bottom of the fourth when Gustafson caught a line drive bunt attempt by Amanda Nguyen and fired to first base to double off Navarro. April Ortenzo then doubled on a ball that fell between the short stop Vargas and sophomore center fielder Kelliner Croushore (Claremont, Calif.). Reynolds drove in Ortenzo on a double to the left center field fence and increased the Black Knights' lead to 4-0. The next batter, Marina Northup, walked and both runners advanced to scoring position on a passed ball. AuBuchon then tallied her second two-RBI double of the game to score Ortenzo and Northup. Rae Anne Payleitner followed with a double down the left field line to score AuBuchon and bring the score to 7-0 before Cheske got Rachael Duval to fly out to center field and end the inning.
The Crusaders went down in order in the top of the fifth and the Black Knights ended the game in five innings when Nguyen reached on a bunt single and stole second. Ortenzo singled to left field to bring Nguyen around and gave the Black Knights the 8-0 victory.
Cheske suffered her fifth loss of the season going four and one-third innings allowing eight runs on 13 hits while striking out one. Lashley improved to 12-9 on the season allowing just two hits in a five inning shutout victory while striking out nine.
Gustafson led off game two with an infield single as the Black Knights sent Lashley back to the circle against the Crusaders. Trainor sacrifice bunted Gustafson to second, but after a strike out, Lashley was able to get Fregenti to fly out to deep center and bring Army to the plate. Barrett stepped in the circle for Holy Cross and after giving up a bunt single to Nguyen was able to field her position and by snagging a line drive off the bat of Ortenzo and double off Nguyen at first base. Reynolds popped up to third to end the first inning.
Croushore led off the second inning with a double to left center and AuBuchon singled in the bottom half of the inning but neither team was able to capitalize. Both teams were retired in order in the third and fourth innings. Senior Nicole Ortiz (Whittier, Calif.) began the fifth inning with a single to right field and Girvalo entered to pinch run for the second time on the day. Sophomore Sarah Free (Claremont, Calif.) sacrifice bunted Girvalo to second base but once again Lashley was able to get out of the jam. AuBuchon led off the bottom half of the inning with a double to left center and Reanna Johnson earned a one-out walk to put two runners on base. Vargas made a diving play at short stop off the bat of Rachel Duval to prevent AuBuchon from scoring and recorded the put out on Johnson at second base. Navarro walked to load the bases and Nguyen slapped a single to left field, scoring AuBuchon, but the Crusaders were able to tag out Duval rounding third base to end the inning having given up just one run.
It was more of the same for the Crusaders in the top of the sixth inning as Gustafson led off with a walk and freshman pinch runner Rebecca Sewell (Bedminster, N.J.) advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Trainor, but was unable to come around to score. Army was retired one-two-three in the bottom of the sixth and with the game on the line Croushore led off the top of the seventh with a walk. Ortiz earned her second hit of the game with a single down the right field line and the Crusaders had two runners on with no outs. Free reached on a fielder's choice as Army perfectly defended Free's sacrifice bunt attempt and retired Croushore at third. Lashley then struck out the final two batters of the game to give Army its second victory on the day by a score 1-0.
Barrett went six innings giving up four hits and one run while striking out two and fell to 2-7 on the season. Lashley improved to 13-9 with her second shutout win of the day giving up four hits and striking out eight.
The Crusaders (3-17, 0-2 PL) will play the final two games of the conference opening four-game series with Army (17-12, 2-0 PL) tomorrow. The doubleheader is set to begin at 1:00 p.m.