As Kirsten Drobiak ripped a two out two run double to center field, the fans erupted and her teammates went crazy. Not only was that the Pride’s first hit of the game but it also gave the Pride a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. However, what was coming next would electrify the already hyped up crowd at Potter Field on Friday. Sophomore Yaixsa [Known as J] Vargas got her pitch and she made no mistake depositing it over the fence in left center for her first collegiate home run.
For the Pride the combination of timely hitting and solid pitching helped lead to a sweep of conference foe Clark. The Pride won game 1 9-0 in five innings, before winning 5-2 in game two to secure the sweep. Coach Kate Bowen was happy with the way, the team played today.
“We came out really strong scoring nine runs in the first game and in the second game they had a really good pitcher. We made the adjustments late in the game and got a couple of clutch hits. With good pitching all around it was an exciting day for us.
Going into the first game of the doubleheader against a Cougars team that came in hitting below .200 it was an ideal matchup for Pride ace Talia Loda. As Loda has done all season she dominated. In her four innings of work she cruised only allowing one hit and striking out six. To continue the strong pitching in game 1, sophomore Marisa Valenti threw a perfect fifth inning to finish the victory off.
For the Pride offense in game 1, they were clicking early and often. With two on in the first Vargas came through with a sac fly to give the Pride a 1-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. The Pride would pad the lead as a Drobiak RBI double and an Alexyss Conley RBI single would push the lead to 3-0. In the fourth inning the Pride’s offense, with some help from three Clark errors would explode for six runs. A single by Carianna Gasdia followed by back to back doubles by Drobiak and Vargas pushed the lead to six. After a missed catch error by Clark’s first basemen a Gabby Alfieri RBI double closed the scoring.
Pitching was the name of the game, in game two as Shelby Allen was matched up against Clark’s Sami West and her riseball. West had the riseball working for her as she held a normally solid Springfield offense in check for a good part of game two. However, Allen was up to the task as both pitchers took no hitters through the fourth inning. However, the fifth inning was where the wheels would start to turn.
After setting down the first two hitters Allen finally allowed a hit, then another. Suddenly, the Cougars had two on and two out for pinch hitter Sarah Woods. However, Allen kept the game scoreless bouncing back with a huge strikeout, and what was her ninth of the day. Allen’s ability to get out of the jam would prove even more important as the Pride would try to break the scoreless deadlock.
After sophomore Meghan Sastram was hit by a pitch, and advanced to second on a wild pitch, things looked good for the Pride. With two outs and Sastram still on second Gasdia was hit by a pitch bringing up Drobiak. Drobiak made no mistake hitting a two run double to finally break the deadlock. Then the big blow, the Vargas two run homerun that was smoked to left center. After the game Vargas discussed her feelings on hitting the homerun.
“I was really excited. I wasn’t expecting it because usually I’m more of a line drive hitter. I’m really excited it was my first collegiate home run.
The main reason for the Pride’s offense being held to almost nothing was the riseball of Sami West. To end the third, she got Gasdia and Drobiak to strikeout swinging back to back, something that very rarely happens. However, in the fifth the Pride were finally able to adjust and make hard contact for the first time in game two.
“It was just staying in the box and knowing yourself as a hitter. It was about just getting your pitch you know you can hit and letting the high ball go.”
Vargas certainly got her pitch with the home run, and that capped a successful day for her as she drove in four on the day and continued her run as a hot hitter. Vargas is on a five-game hitting streak and her bat has gotten Coach Bowen’s attention.
“She’s in a great zone right now. She’s seeing the ball well and attacking the ball. We hope she stays right where she is.”
Although the Cougars would threaten late the Pride would hold them off for a 5-2 win in game two.
Takeaways from Today:
- The Pride pitching runs deeper than Loda and Allen. Valenti was solid in relief today. After a scoreless inning to close game 1, she was thrown into the fire in game 2. After a walk she retired the next hitter and then despite allowing a run in the seventh she would finish out game two.
- Yaixsa Vargas could be a key at the plate down the stretch. For the Pride if they want Allen or Loda off their feet in the game they don’t pitch, with the way she’s hit, Vargas could slide into the DP spot permanently.
With the wins the Pride improved to 18-6 overall with a 6-4 record in conference, while Clark fell to 5-17 and 1-11 in conference. The Pride are amid a critical stretch in their schedule. Including today the Pride have six doubleheaders in eight days. Tomorrow the Pride head to MIT who are tied atop the NEWMAC with WPI at 9-1 in the conference. Tomorrows doubleheader which starts at noon, would be a huge momentum boost for the Pride if they could take one or both games off the top team in the NEWMAC.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics