The Oswego State softball team dropped to 8-11 overall after being swept by Utica College in a doubleheader on Wednesday, losing game one, 5-9, and game two, 5-8. The Lakers have a tough road ahead, including a doubleheader against undefeated SUNY Cortland.
“During the first game we were exchanging home runs with them,” head coach Casey Price said. “Our bats were working throughout the day but we had some shortcomings defensively that may have cost us the game.”
The Lakers scored five runs in both the first and second games of the day, but were undone by defensive lapses. Senior Shannon Baker had two home runs in the first game, and nearly hit one out in the second game. Junior Ashley Snyder pitched the entirety of the first game, despite allowing nine runs and six home runs and picked up the loss, dropping her to 8-6 on the season.
Our hitting has been a lot better this season, and I think our new weight training program has something to do with it.” Price said. “Shannon Baker hit two home runs in game one after not having a home run all season, so the improvements are starting to show.”
The second game ended in an offensive shootout, much like the first game, but the beginning of the game made it seem like it might be a pitchers’ duel between freshman Danielle Groat of the Lakers, and Briona Enny of the Pioneers.
In the top of the second inning, Groat let up two singles and a walk to load the bases, but she calmed down and was able to force a ground out to end the scare. In the bottom of the same inning, the Lakers also loaded the bases, but were able to capitalize on the opportunity when senior Brittany Carbacio knocked in two runs on a two-out single. The Lakers successfully pulled off a double steal, but Enny was able to end the threat with a strike out.
Oswego State was able to put up two more runs in the bottom of the third inning. Baker knocked in one of those two runs on a double that was inches away from being a home run, which would have been her third of the day. The double put the Lakers up by four, but Enny was able to end the inning.
Groat had thrown a flawless game up until the fourth inning, when she hit a rough patch. Senior Haley Butler started off the inning with a single for the Pioneers, and started the rally that would bring Utica back into the game.
After a fly out, junior outfielder Meghan Matan hit a two-run home run to cut the Lakers’ lead in half. After another ground out, Groat allowed a hit and a walk, and then loaded the bases on an error by second baseman Katie Bredin. The Pioneers’ catcher Mallory Ingalls proceeded to hit a two-run single to tie the game for Utica. Utica loaded the bases again on a bunt single but Groat was able to end the inning on a fly out.
Both teams settled down after that, with the Lakers going down in order to end the fourth, and Utica going down on three consecutive pitches to start the fifth inning, but the offense picked back up in the bottom half of the fifth. The Lakers put two runners on but were not able to capitalize. They had two singles and a double steal that put runners on second and third with two outs, but popped out to end the inning.
In the sixth inning Utica got started right away with three straight singles from Courtney Fitzgerald, Kristie Jones and Bridgette Plummer to load the bases for a fourth time in the game. The Pioneers had stranded seven runners prior to the inning, but were able to fully capitalize on this opportunity when Ingalls hit a grand slam, giving her six RBIs for the game, and leading Utica to an 8-4 lead.
After another error by Oswego State and a single, Price finally decided to take Groat out of the game and replaced her with junior Sarah Thayer, but it was too little too late for the Lakers.
The Lakers added one more run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double, but were quiet in the last inning and ceded the loss to Utica.
“I was really hoping Groat would be able to get us through the game but things just didn’t go her way,” Price said. “She has a lot of movement on her pitches and I trusted her to get us through the game, but it just goes to show how one bad pitch can change the entire outcome of a game.”
The Lakers had four total errors in the game, and had a poor defensive day all around.
“We played really sloppy defensively today, and it’s been a problem for us all season,” Price said. “If we can clean up the defense a bit, we have the ability to beat anyone.”
Despite the Lakers being 8-11, Price is happy with the improvement she is seeing on the field and is looking forward to playing Cortland on Saturday.
“We are looking much better than we did this time last year,” Price said. “We still have a long way to go but I love the improvement we have made so far. We’re sitting right in the middle of the conference right now, and we can make our way higher than that if everyone plays solid the rest of the way.”
The Lakers take on the nationally-ranked Red Dragons in a double header Saturday, with the first game starting at 12 p.m. and the second game starting around 2 p.m.