FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Castleton softball team used a pair of strong pitching performances to open the season with two wins on Thursday, defeating Wilmington College (Ohio) and Curry College in non-conference matchups at the Gene Cusic Classic at the Century Link Sports Complex.
The Spartans open the season 2-0 after defeating Wilmington, 3-2, and Curry, 8-2. Wilmington falls to 0-9 and Curry moves to 2-6. Sami Carlo led the offense with a 3-for-5 day, while McKinlie Carpenter went 2-for-4 with two walks over the two games. Timi Carone tallied three runs batted in on the day, while Karli Theberge drove in two.
Kayla Wood picked up a victory in her first start of the season, going the distance and allowing two runs on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts. She carried a perfect game through 4.1 innings, and allowed hits in only two of seven innings. Carone paced the offense with a 2-for-4 game and a run batted in, while Theberge and Carlo each added one hit and one RBI.
Castleton got off to a quick start in game one, jumping out to an early two-run lead in the second inning. Back-to-back hits by Tori Swaine and Carpenter gave the Spartans runners on first and second with nobody out, but the next two batters both struck out, keeping the runners put. Carlo then knocked a two-out base hit into right field, scoring Swaine. Carone followed with a base hit of her own, driving in Carpenter and making it 2-0.
Castleton tacked on another run in the third inning, as Kayley Fountain led off the inning with a base hit before moving into scoring position on a wild pitch. With one out in the inning, Theberge rocked a double into the left-center field gap to push Castleton's lead to 3-0. Two straight strikeouts stranded Theberge at second, ending the Spartans' threat.
Wood was on cruise control until the fifth inning, carrying a perfect game into the bottom half of the inning. The Wilmington bats came alive in the fifth, however, as the Quakers tallied five hits en route to a pair of runs, cutting the deficit to 3-2. After a leadoff groudout, Wilmington broke up the perfect game with a base hit into center field by Chandler Fields. Wood got the next batter to ground out, but four consecutive hits led to two runs for the Quakers before Castleton recorded the final out of the inning.
The Spartan bats were held in check over the final few frames, as Castleton had no hits after the fourth inning. Wood bounced back from the rocky fifth inning with two more scoreless innings to preserve the Spartan victory, capped off with a strikeout to end the game.
Taylor Paquette nearly matched Wood's stat line identically in the Spartans' second game of the day, as the junior tossed a complete game of her own, allowing just two runs on seven hits with no walks and a strikeout. Carlo went 2-for-2 in game two, scoring once and driving in a run. Carone and Theberge each had a pair of RBIs in the game-two victory.
Castleton's bats were active from the first pitch, as the squad put up runs in each of the first five innings against Curry. In the bottom of the first, Theberge poked a one-out single into left field before Sara Baker reached on an error to give Castleton runners at second and third and just one out. Theberge was cut down trying to score on a passed ball, but Fountain sent a two-out base hit into right field to score Baker and give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Carpenter led off the second inning with a double, setting up Brooke Naylor with a runner in scoring position. Naylor tagged a double into left field, scoring Carpenter to push the lead to 2-0. After a groundout and a sacrifice bunt, Naylor was at third for Carone—who laid down a bunt single to score Naylor. Carone advanced to second as the Colonels tried to get Naylor at the plate, and came around to score on a throwing error by the shortstop on a ground ball by Theberge, making it 4-0 Spartans after two innings.
Curry answered back in the top of the third, using a pair of RBI singles to cut the lead to 4-2. Back-to-back singles to start the inning gave Curry a prime scoring chance, with the leadoff runner advancing to third on a fly ball out. Carolyn Lynch had an infield single to score the runner, and advanced to second on the play. With two outs in the inning, the Colonels tacked on one more run, as Kevi Oatway drove in a run with a single into center field.
Castleton was back at it in its half of the third inning, as Carlo registered an RBI single to make it 5-2 in favor of the Spartans. Paquette worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning, bringing the red-hot Spartan bats to the plate once more. Theberge was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and advanced to second on a groundout by Baker. After another groundout, Theberge was on third base for Swaine, who got the run home after an error on the shortstop. Carpenter followed with a walk, and both runners moved up to third on a wild pitch, but a foul pop out ended the threat with just one run coming across.
Paquette put up another zero in the top of the fifth inning, and Castleton continued the onslaught of offense, as Briley Blackbird walked and stole second to start the inning. Carlo then singled and advanced to second to give the Spartans two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Carone lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Blackbird and advancing Carlo to third base. An RBI groundout by Theberge scored Carlo, making it 8-2 Spartans after five innings, a score that held until the end of the contest. Paquette retired each of the last six batters she faced in the game.
Castleton plays Centenary (N.J.) and Marian (Wisc.) on Friday at 9 and 11 a.m., respectively.