CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton softball team hits the road on Saturday to open its North Atlantic Conference schedule, taking on New England College in a neutral site doubleheader at Eastern Connecticut State University.
The conference twin bill, originally scheduled to be played in Henniker, N.H., was moved to ECSU due to field conditions at NEC. The games, to be played at 1 and 3 p.m., mark the first conference games for each school, as Castleton enters the weekend 6-2 overall and NEC is 4-10.
The Spartans are coming off back-to-back wins and wins in three of their last four games after taking both ends of a doubleheader from Skidmore on Sunday. The Castleton offense erupted for 32 hits and 22 runs in the twin bill sweep, as the squad took game one by a final of 13-5 before winning game two, 9-1.
Freshmen Karli Theberge and Sara Baker each had a big day at Skidmore, as Theberge racked up six hits and Baker drove in five runs on her way to NAC Co-Player and Co-Rookie of the Week honors. Theberge is tied with Tori Swaine and Timi Carone for most hits on the team, with 10, while ranking second on the team with a .345 batting average. Swaine tops the team with an average of .357, and she has driven in six runs on the year. Carone has been a force at the top of the lineup, batting .313 and driving in nine runs out of the leadoff spot. She also has three steals on the season. Baker leads Castleton with 10 runs scored and is the only Spartan to go deep on the season, as she blasted a two-run home run—the first of her career—in Castleton's game-one win at Skidmore on Sunday. McKinlie Carpenter is second on the team with seven runs scored, and is first on the team with a .400 on-base percentage.
Taylor Paquette has been nearly untouchable in the circle this season, pitching her way to a 4-0 record with a 1.35 earned-run average. The junior has struck out 13 batters in 26.0 innings, and has allowed just five earned runs while walking only two batters. Her 0.54 walks per seven innings rank her 27th in all of Division III and first in the NAC. Kayla Wood has been solid for the Spartans as well, as she holds a 2-2 record with three complete games this season. Wood has a 3.71 ERA and nine strikeouts in 28.1 innings of work, walking just four batters.
The Pilgrims got off to a quick start this season, going 4-4 in their opening eight games. Their luck changed, however, as they have dropped each of their last six contests after a three-game winning streak to sit at 4-10 entering the weekend. NEC has scored more than one run just once in the last six contests, and the team has been shut out three times in that span.
Brianna Castellano leads the offense, batting an impressive .467 with 21 hits in 45 at bats. She also leads the squad with 10 RBIs, and has scored seven times on the season. Joslyn Gallagher comes into the doubleheader with an average of .302, tallying 13 hits including a home run. Gabriella Marcheschi has also notched a home run for the Pilgrims, and is batting .273 on the year. Alexa Scribner leads the team with nine runs scored and is 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
Debra Mazzeo has gotten a majority of the innings for the Pilgrims, going 2-7 in 52.2 innings thus far. She has an ERA of 4.78, and has allowed 103 baserunners via hit or walk in her 52.2 innings. Opponents bat .328 against Mazzeo, and she has allowed 22 extra-base hits this season. Marcheschi has seen substantial innings for NEC as well, tossing 34.1 innings with a 2-3 record to date. She has a 4.49 ERA thus far, with opponents hitting .314 against her.
Castleton got the best of NEC in both matchups at Spartan Field last year, winning game one 4-3 before cruising to a 9-1 win in five innings in game two. Wood picked up a save in the first game before turning around and going all five innings for the win in game two. Carone and Carpenter each tallied triples in the second game, while Carone also added a stolen base on the day.