CASTLETON, Vt. – An eight-run outburst in the first inning was more than enough to lift the Castleton softball team to victory on Thursday afternoon, as the Spartans downed Southern Vermont College by a final score of 12-0 at Spartan Field in five innings.
Castleton improves to 11-7-1 on the season, while Southern Vermont falls to 4-14 overall. Taylor Paquette picked up her eighth win of the season, breaking her previous career-high mark of seven wins set a season ago. Paquette worked 3.0 scoreless innings, facing the minimum amount of batters and striking out four. Kayla Wood came on in relief, tossing 2.0 perfect innings, striking out three batters along the way.
Sara Baker's outstanding week continued on Thursday, as the freshman blasted her third home run of the week and her second in as many games for Castleton. Baker finished the day 3-for-4 with the home run, two doubles and five RBIs. Brooke Naylor also had a two-run double for Castleton, while Paquette chipped in with an RBI double to help her own cause.
Southern Vermont's Lizzy Bench had the only hit of the game for the Mountaineers, as she registered a single to lead off the game. Shea Wilson went the distance in the circle, allowing 12 runs on 12 hits and six walks over 4.0 innings.
The Spartans outhit Southern Vermont 12-1 on the day, and didn't commit an error over five innings of action. Southern Vermont made one error in the game.
Bench opened the game with a base hit over the head of the second baseman, but she was quickly erased on a fielder's choice groundout by Dana Clement, who was then cut down on a line-drive double play off the bat of Wilson to end the inning.
Timi Carone led off the bottom of the inning with a walk for Castleton, before Baker planted the first pitch she saw over the fence in left center field to give the Spartans an early 2-0 advantage. Kayley Fountain followed with a walk before stealing second and advancing to third base on a passed ball. A sacrifice fly by Tori Swaine scored Fountain, pushing the lead to 3-0. A base hit by Jordan Gouger and walk to Paquette gave McKinlie Carpenter runners on first and second, and she cashed in with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. A base hit up the middle by Briley Blackbird loaded the bases for Sami Carlo, who drove in a run with a walk.
Carone came to the plate for the second time in the inning, lofting a sacrifice fly to center field to score Carpenter. Carlo and Blackbird each advanced on the play. Baker again came through for Castleton in her second at-bat of the first inning, crushing a double off the right center field fence to score both runners and push the lead to 8-0 with two outs in the inning. A groundout ended the frame, but it was more than enough for Castleton as the Spartans brought 12 batters to the plate in scoring eight runs.
Paquette struck out the side in order in the visitors' half of the second inning, and Castleton tacked on a run in the bottom of the frame on a run-scoring double from Paquette. She advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Castleton couldn't bring her in as she was stranded there to end the inning.
Paquette again set the Mountaineers down in order in the third inning, capping off her outing with a strikeout to end the frame. The Spartans tallied their final three runs of the contest in the third inning, as Baker notched her second RBI double of the day before Naylor came through with a one-out double to right center, scoring both Baker and Abby Ferrara. Dani Forand and Serena Irmiere each tallied their first career hits later in the inning, but were stranded on base with Castleton up 12-0 after three complete innings.
Wood dazzled in relief of Paquette, coming in and setting down all six batters she faced with three strikeouts. The senior needed just 28 pitches, throwing 21 of them for strikes.
The Spartans hit the road this weekend for a pair of North Atlantic Conference doubleheaders at the University of Maine-Farmington and Thomas.