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Softball mounts comeback, sweeps FDU
With the Northeast Conference playoffs looming, the Bobcats need to have their younger players step up and their experienced players lead the way.
Who said they need to wait for the playoffs to begin? Tuesday’s doubleheader against Fairleigh Dickinson showed they were ready.
Freshman Jordan Paolucci hit a walk-off home run in Game 1, seniors Joelle Jacobsen and Kim Brzezinski each had two RBIs in game 2, and junior Heather Schwartzburg earned two wins, as the Bobcats swept the Knights in a doubleheader at Quinnipiac Softball Field, 3-2 in game 1 and 5-3 in the second game.
“We challenged them in between games to have that fire and desire to make sure we have nine hitters in the lineup with fire and desire to fight up there and make something happen,” Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild said. “And we got it.”
It was near perfect timing, especially with a doubleheader at Robert Morris awaiting the team on Saturday.
Paolucci went 3-for-7 in the doubleheader, and her biggest hit came in the bottom of the seventh in the first game. Paolucci crushed a 2-2 offering from Caitlin Bradac (10-6) over the fence for a home run to give the Bobcats (27-20, 11-5 NEC) their second win when trailing after six innings.
“I always want to be the player that’s up with a full count, down a run and to get a big hit,” Paolucci said. “It’s not even just big hits; it’s just making contact that turns into a big hit, so I always want to do that.”
Jacqueline Ristow, who also went 3-for-7, worked the count full and singled up the middle on the ninth pitch of her at-bat to bring up Paolucci.
“There’s no way she was going to get me out,” said Ristow, who extended her hitting streak to five games. “Somehow I had to find my way on, and there’s no way a ball is going to get called a strike against me, so I was fouling everything off.”
Paolucci’s blast was her league-leading 11th on the season, and jumped into a frenzy at home plate after rounding third.
“I feel like we always have a chance with this team,” Ristow said. “Never say never. Somehow we always find a way. We’ve had a lot of comebacks.”
Ten, to be exact.
“It has to be a combination of both the team’s mindset and what the coach says,” Ristow said. “I just think that we have the mentality that we refuse to lose.”
Lauren Salgado had two hits in both games of the doubleheader and scored the Bobcats’ first run in game 1 on a Christy Cabrera triple.
“Our lefties did a good job up there all day with Lauren and Jacquie,” Fairchild said.
Schwartzburg (19-9) struck out nine in her 18th complete game of the season. She retired 16 batters in a row at one point after allowing a two-run home run to Maria Roney in the first inning.
“Heather is pretty intimidating,” Fairchild said.
She came on to pitch in relief in Game 2 and struck out seven in three scoreless innings, shutting down the Knights (22-21, 6-10).
“I played for Heather for probably six years, and when she comes in I know that she’s going to put her all into it,” Ristow said. “She has this confidence and everyone else feels it.”
Brzezinski went 2-for-3 in game 2; her second hit a single through the left side to drive in Ristow in the fifth to give Quinnipiac a 4-3 lead.
She started Quinnipiac’s three-run fourth inning with an RBI single, and Jacobsen, the team’s senior captain, hit a two-run base hit up the middle to tie it.
“[Jacobsen] has stayed positive the entire year and through that at-bat, a two-run hit there,” Fairchild said. “In talking with her parents, they’ll describe her as the most positive person they’ve ever met, and I think that rubs off on our team.”
Emily O’Keefe and Mina Duffy each threw two innings in the second game, combining to allow seven hits and two walks.
“I’ve got to give Emily O’Keefe and Mina Duffy credit for giving [Schwartzburg] a rest and getting us through those first four innings so Heather only had to face each of their hitters one more time,” Fairchild said. “They were able to put together a lot of innings and keep us within striking distance.”
Alex Alba went 2-for-3 in the second game with an RBI single in the sixth to make the score 5-3.
The Bobcats travel to Stony Brook Wednesday for a doubleheader before their matchup with the Colonials.
Photo credit: Matt Eisenberg