The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Sledge drops bomb; Cal drops hammer

As the 2011 regular season starts approaching the end for the Gannon University softball team, coach Tom Jakubowski and company draw closer to reaching a goal set a few months ago.

Tessy Pawlowski
(Tessy Pawlowski) Gannon University freshman second baseman Kristie Cortazzo (22) dives for a ground ball during a doubleheader against Seton Hill University Sunday. Cortazzo hit a grand slam in Gannon's win over Lake Erie College Tuesday.

“When the season started, I said I would be happy with a .500 record,” Jakubowski said. “With not much of the season left, we’ve got a shot.”

The Knights sit at 17-17 for the season with six scheduled games left after going 4-6 during a busy week. Due to some rescheduling, Gannon played eight games over a four-day stretch, starting with Thursday’s doubleheader against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division powerhouse California (Pa.) University.

Gannon struck first against the No. 24 nationally ranked Vulcans, taking a 1-0 lead after freshman catcher Katie Dunn singled home junior centerfielder Jaleesa Sledge in the bottom of the first.  Sledge added a solo shot in the third to push the lead to two, but Cal responded in the next frame, cutting the lead back to one.

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The Vulcans pulled ahead in the fifth after a misplayed ball in the outfield led to a double, soon followed by Jillian Russell’s two-run blast, pushing Cal up for good, 3-2 to give sophomore pitcher Megan Dragon her seventh loss of the season.

Despite the loss, Jakubowski said he was pleased by how close the Knights came to besting the California juggernaut.

“We had them 2-1 and misplayed one ball and the next person just happened to hit a home run,” Jakubowski said. “Cal came in undefeated in the conference and we nearly beat them, so that was really promising.”

The Knights showed more competitive spirit over the first three innings of the second game, but three home runs proved not to be enough to overcome the Vulcans.

A grand slam by Sledge, as well as solo shots by freshman designated player Rachel Meyer and left fielder Katie Killian, proved no match for a Cal squad that compiled 16 hits and nine walks en route to a 13-6 drubbing for a sweep of the doubleheader.

Gannon stopped the short slide the next day when Dragon took the mound in the opening game against Slippery Rock University. Dragon stymied the Rock offense, allowing just one run on four hits for the Knights. The Gannon offense sprung for 10 hits to take the first game 4-1.

The second game, however, proved to be a different story. The Knights’ hitters could only muster two hits and actually had more success when the bats stayed on their shoulders, drawing nine walks. Despite the free base runners, Gannon could only score a pair to lose 6-2

The fifth and sixth games of the stretch came against crosstown rival Mercyhurst College. A three-run third inning was enough for the Lakers to chase Dragon for the game, but sophomore pitcher Erica Bartholow did the best she could to keep the Knights in the game, pitching three shutout innings after the Knights fell behind.

It took until the sixth inning for Gannon to score, but a base running error helped limit the Knights to just two, eventually falling 3-2.

“We seemed dead, just lethargic,” Jakubowski said. “We could have won, but we played sloppy. Some teams can make a mistake here and there and win. We can’t.”

Gannon rectified the previous game’s errors after another strong effort from Dragon. The Knights struck in the first off junior third baseman Ashley Petrone’s two-run single, providing enough wiggle room for Dragon to earn her 11th win of the season by a score of 5-1.

The Knights had yet another doubleheader the next day, taking on Seton Hill University Sunday.

Neither offense could get much going as Dragon and Seton Hill’s Louanne Wiegand posted zeroes on the board for the first five innings. It wasn’t until the sixth that either team scored, when Seton Hill scored after a two-out triple.

Gannon’s offense arose from its slumber when freshman designated player Christie Valentino singled home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh. With runners on second and third and one out, Jakubowski called for the suicide squeeze, with junior outfielder Toni Caruso’s bunt allowing the winning run to score.

“We were flat and had to generate the score,” Jakubowski said. “Instead of some players being aggressive with runners on third, some of them seem to tighten up.”

The offense loosened up in the second inning of the next game, although it took three chances with the bases loaded for the Knights to take advantage of the opportunity.

With the bases juiced, Seton Hill pitcher Caitlyn Kamalich induced a Gannon pop-up and strike out before Sledge cleared the bases with a two-out double. Seton Hill matched the Knights three-run inning in the fourth, but it was Seton Hill’s seventh inning heroics that proved the margin of victory, as a two-out single was enough for a 4-3 victory.

After a short break, the Knights traveled to Painesville, Ohio, to play Lake Erie College. Lake Erie took an early 2-0 lead, but Gannon exploded for five runs in the sixth, including freshman second baseman Kirstie Cortazzo’s grand slam. The Knights would tack on one more run for the 6-2 victory.

Gannon couldn’t solve the Storm’s Sara Shields in the second game, mustering only two hits as the Knights fell 1-0, despite Bartholow’s strong performance.

With over three-fourths of the season over, Jakubowski’s goals of a .500 season could be a reality, although he said that he’s pleased with the way his team has played already.

“We’re inexperienced, we’re hurting and we’re just not as talented as other teams, but we will be soon,” Jakubowski said. “I’m really proud of these girls.”


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