Bellush bests Bulldogs, 5-0
The temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing colors, Halloween is just around the corner and the 2009-2010 Quinnipiac softball season is now underway. On a sunny Sunday morning, the Bobcats put together an impressive performance against the Yale Bulldogs, winning 5-0 in one of the final exhibition games of the season.
Sophomore starting pitcher Heather Schwartzburg, the Bobcats’ ace, picked up right where she left off last season. Schwartzburg threw five scoreless innings, surrendering three hits and striking out 10. Schwartzburg finished last season with a Northeast Conference best – and Quinnipiac record – 206 strikeouts on her way to claiming NEC Rookie of the Year honors.
“I would say the sky is the limit for [Schwartzburg] because she is very humble and she is always open to learning a little something new to improve a pitch or her approach,” Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild said.
“The thing about her is she is not resting on her laurels, that was clear from the first day she came back this fall. She is ready to improve and keep finding ways to getting better.”
Leading the way for Quinnipiac on offense was Christine Bourdeau who went 2-for-5 with a run batted in. Jaime Sini, Katie Allendorfer and Heather Maffeo each recorded two hits, while Emily Bellush had a pair of walks to go along with her home run in the ninth frame.
Bellush, along with Jamie Iaquinto, supported Schwartzburg in relief. Each tossed two scoreless innings and limited the Bulldogs when runners reached base.
Iaquinto gave up consecutive singles followed by a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out in the sixth. The next batter smacked a line drive right at third baseman Bridget Figmic, who picked the loose ball off the infield and fired a strike to home for the second out. Iaquinto got the last out of the inning herself when she gloved a grounder and flipped the ball to first base.
Bellush ran into trouble in the eighth, issuing a leadoff walk and single. But Bellush kept the shutout intact as she struck out the next batter, induced a groundout and struck out the final batter of the inning.
“The first thing that jumped out was that we didn’t allow any runs,” Fairchild said. “Any time you go nine innings with a Division I team and you don’t give up a run, you got to be happy with your pitching and defense.”
The Bobcats’ offense also came to play, cranking out 11 hits and drawing six walks. The first run was pushed across in the bottom of the fourth when Allendorfer laced a double just inside the left field foul line. Two walks later set the stage for Kim Brzezinski with two outs. She was hit by a pitch just above her left elbow allowing Alex Murray, who had been running for Allendorfer, to trot home.
The Bobcats struck again in the fifth when Maffeo scored from second base after the first baseman dropped a throw from the shortstop.
Command of the strike zone highlighted a tremendous effort from Schwartzburg, as she threw first-pitch strikes to all 18 batters she faced. Schwartzburg escaped the only threat she encountered in the fifth with help from Bourdeau, who saved a run with a diving effort to her right, preventing a line drive single to reach the outfield. With runners on first and third, Schwartzburg reared back and fired her tenth strikeout to end the inning.
The Bobcats added insurance runs in the eighth as Kim Le Bel lined an RBI single into right that scored Figmic. Bourdeau hit an RBI single of her own right back up the middle with two outs to extend the Quinnipiac lead to 4-0.
Then in the ninth, Bellush supported her own cause with a towering home run to right that landed 15 feet over the fence.
The Bobcats hope to use the remaining time left in the fall semester to prepare for the upcoming regular season and exhibitions that can prove valuable to building a team for future success.
“For the most part I try to keep things pretty much the way that I would keep them in a game,” Fairchild said. “That way they can understand that if they can come out and do the same thing next year without attaching this extra expectation, they realize their performance actually improves. Taking pressure off will help your performance, and not putting pressure on, so that’s our goal for the spring.”