NAPLES, Fla. – The Castleton softball team rounded out its six-game Florida trip with another doubleheader split on Saturday, ending the week with a 4-2 overall record in the Gene Cusic Classic.
The Spartans rallied for a 3-2, eight-inning win in game one against the University of Wisconsin-Superior, before falling 9-0 in five innings to North Central (Ill.) in the second game of the day. UW-Superior fell to 4-3 with the loss, while North Central improved to 2-4 overall.
Tori Swaine and Kayley Fountain each had two hits on the day, and Taylor Paquette picked up her third win of the season with eight strong innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits and no walks. She struck out five in the win, and extended her streak to 19 innings this season without walking a batter.
The first game was a pitchers' duel, as Paquette and Megan Pehrson battled pitch-for-pitch for the first seven innings. After five scoreless frames to open the game, the Yellowjackets broke into the scoring column first with a run in the top half of the sixth inning. With one out in the inning, Paquette surrendered a solo home run to Ciara Taipale to left center field. The hit was one of just six hits that Paquette allowed on the day.
Still trailing 1-0 going into their last at-bats, the Spartans came through with a run to extend the game further. Swaine knocked a one-out base hit, before being pinch-run for by Abby Ferrara. Ferrara advanced to second when McKinlie Carpenter was hit by a pitch, putting the tying run in scoring position with just one out. A one-out strikeout put the Spartans' backs against the wall, but a costly error by UW-Superior allowed the tying run to score. Castleton loaded the bases after an intentional walk, but couldn't push the winning run home in the seventh, sending the game to extras for the second day in a row.
Beginning the inning with a runner on second base, Paquette buckled down and struck the leadoff batter out. The ball got away from the catcher, however, forcing a throw to first base allowing the runner to move to third. A base hit scored the runner, giving the Yellowjackets a lead once again. Castleton got out of the inning with just the one run allowed, giving the bats a chance for redemption.
A leadoff groundout kept Carone stuck at second base, but she quickly scored on the next play as an error on the first baseman allowed her to cross the plate and tie the game. Baker made it all the way to third base on the play, giving the Spartans the winning run just 60 feet from the plate. Fountain came through with a clutch base hit through the left side of the infield, giving the Spartans a walk-off victory, 3-2.
The Castleton bats were stymied in game two of the day, as North Central held the team to one hit over five innings. Kayla Wood suffered her second consecutive loss, working three innings and allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits and two walks. Karli Theberge went two innings in relief and allowed four runs on eight hits.
The Cardinals got off to a quick start, putting two runs on the board before the Spartans came to the plate. They added onto their lead in the second inning, scoring another run to make it 3-0. North Central ended Wood's day after three innings, scoring twice in the third for a 5-0 lead.
Theberge worked a scoreless fourth inning, but the Spartans still struggled at the plate, as a bunt single by Carone was the only thing they managed in the bottom of the frame. North Central busted the game open in the top of the fifth, notching four runs—capped by a two-run single—to make it 9-0, ending the game early due to the eight-run rule.
Castleton is scheduled to resume play on March 29 at Norwich at 3 p.m.