Statesmen Split on Opening Day

Kansas City, Mo.–The William Penn softball team finally got to shake off the rust Tuesday as it faced Avila in a non-conference doubleheader to begin the 2021 campaign.

WPU (1-1) won the opener 6-5 in eight innings, but then dropped the nightcap 6-3 to its former Heart of America Athletic Conference foe.

The navy and gold outhit the Eagles 9-6 in the first matchup, but really found success via four errors by Avila (3-5). Three of those mistakes came in the fourth inning with William Penn trailing 2-0.

Valeria Quiroga (Fr., San Benito, Texas, Sociology) led off with a single and Lexi Riccardi (Sr., Redwood City, Calif., Biology) moved her to third on a double to deep left-center field. An AU error allowed Quiroga and Riccardi to score, knotting the contest at 2-2. With no outs, the Statesmen were just getting started.

Lexi Resa (So., Liberty, Mo., Biology) started a one-out rally with a single. Abby Sweet (Jr., Exline, Iowa) then added another one-bagger to bring in Resa and pinchrunner Shiloh Cunningham (Fr., Lynnville, Iowa). Sweet eventually made it 5-2 via a single by Avery Rayos (Jr., Henderson, Nev., Biology).

Bianca Castillo (So., Rio Rico, Ariz.) worked out of some jams in her Statesmen debut, but could not wiggle out in the fifth inning as the Eagles tied it up at 5-5 with a three-run effort. Castillo, who walked six (one strikeout), was replaced by Dakota Kulis (Fr., Chicago, Ill., Biology) in the fifth. Kulis permitted a two-run single (both runs credited to Castillo), but then shut the door with back-to-back outs.

Both sides put runners in scoring position in the sixth, but could not added to their tallies. They then went down in order in seventh, forcing extra innings in WPU’s season opener.

The international tiebreaker was in force, allowing both teams to start their half of the inning with a runner at second base. Riccardi was that runner for the navy and gold, but was unmoved after the first batter. Rebecca De Leon (Fr., Ceres, Calif.) then put her squad on top for good with an RBI double.

Kulis was not going to have it easy as she sought out the relief victory. The freshman, who already inherited the runner at second, loaded the bases after an error and a bunt single. She fortunately managed to close it out with a force out at the plate, a run-down out, and finally a strikeout. She claimed the win by tossing two-hit shutout ball over 3 2/3 innings. The freshman struck out three versus two walks.

Offensively, Quiroga and Sweet each tallied two hits; Sweet finished with two RBIs. Rachael Haessly (Jr., Alpine, Calif.) also posted two RBIs, while Riccardi scored twice.

The tables turned in the second bout. Although owning a 7-4 edge in hits, the Statesmen committed four errors. As they did in the opener, the Eagles struck first with three runs in the bottom of the first.

Still down 3-0, WPU finally broke through in the sixth when Quiroga doubled home Resa. Avila tacked on three more runs in the bottom half to essentially seal it up as the Statesmen committed two more fielding mistakes.

The visitors were able to cut into the deficit in their final at-bats, but an RBI double from Nayely Martinez (Fr., Carson, Calif.) and a run-scoring single from Charley Geguzis (Fr., Williamsburg, Iowa) was not enough to help WPU rally once more.

Resa and Martinez each finished 2-for-3 in the setback. Four Statesmen stepped into the pitcher’s circle in the nightcap with Peyton Parker (Jr., LaPorte City, Iowa, Sports Management) serving as the best of the quartet. The junior allowed just one hit in four innings of relief work. She struck out one and walked one.

“We got key hits with runners on base,” Head Coach Mike Christner said. “We also made some big defensive plays in the eighth to win the first game. We definitely made some mistakes, but they are correctable and can be fixed with more practice. It was just great to be on a field finally. I am looking forward to working with this group.”

Next Up: William Penn travels to Kissimmee, Fla. for its Spring Break trip. The Statesmen will open the week on Sunday with games versus Northwestern Ohio at 9 a.m. and Florida National at 11:15 a.m. (Game times are CST).

Posted by on Mar 3 2021. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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