Long Balls Lead Softball to Doubleheader Sweep

Thursday, March 27, 2014
 

Baseball

It took a little coaxing for the sun to peek out from behind the clouds during the Muhlenberg softball team’s Centennial Conference doubleheader at Swarthmore. Once it did, the Mules’ bats warmed up right along with the temperature.

Muhlenberg used the long ball to break a scoreless stalemate en route to a 5-1 victory in the opener, then sent 15 batters to the plate during a 10-run third inning that provided all the scoring in a five-inning nightcap. With its second consecutive sweep, the Mules (12-2, 4-0) stretched their winning streak in CC regular-season games to 12.

Brittany Dzieciolowski “It really warmed up, and so did we,” said sophomore Taylor Trifiolis.

After the teams traded zeroes through three innings in the opener, homers by senior Kelly Kline and sophomore Brittney Dzieciolowski staked Muhlenberg to a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth. That was enough for junior Kelsey Jones, who scattered seven hits and worked her way out of several jams to improve to 6-1 with her seventh straight complete game.

Junior Heather Porrini was dominant in the second half of the twin bill, surrendering just two hits and striking out four in her first career shutout. That helped assure an interesting piece of history; never before had the Mules posted a 10-run inning in a game in which there were no other runs scored.

Porrini didn’t need much help, but the Mules still gave her a glut of runs on the way to their eighth victory in nine games. Trifilois started the parade with the first grand slam of her career, driving a pitch over the fence in left field to make it 4-0 with nobody out.

“I just want to hit the ball hard and get my teammates in in that situation,” said Trifiolis, who also had an RBI single during the outburst. “Just make sure we score some runs.”

She did that and then some, and her teammates kept passing the baton. The Mules scored six more times, all with two outs, to post their first 10-run inning since a 17-13 shootout over Haverford in 2012. Freshman Amanda Hawthorne scored on a wild pitch for her first career run, sophomore Nicole Iannarone stole home and junior Alyssa Schell and Kline had RBI singles before Trifiolis drove in a run with a base hit in her second at-bat of the inning. Dzieciolowski capped the explosion with a run-scoring single to left. By the time the dust settled, the Mules had come up with 10 hits – one shy of the all-time school record for a single inning.

Erica Wenzel “We all just kind of got over the cold and picked each other up,” said Dzieciolowski (right), who finished 4-for-7 with three RBI on the day. “Once one person got a hit, we kept going. It really is contagious; you have so much confidence when that happens because you know the next person is going to get a hit. ”

Before Thursday’s games, no Mule other than Kline had gone deep in 2014. That all changed shortly after the sun came out and the senior hammered her sixth of the season and 27th of her career, a majestic shot to straightaway center to open the fourth inning of the first contest. Two batters later, Dzieciolowski was watching her third career home run sail over the left-field fence. The sophomore swung at the first pitch, a vicious hack that belied the inner calm she felt as she sung Demi Lovato’s ‘Nightingale’ before stepping to the plate.

“I just cleared my mind and went up there singing the song,” Dzieciolowski said. “It definitely worked out. I saw the pitch and went after it.”

After the Garnet (5-9, 0-2) countered with a run of their own, the Mules tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles by senior Erica Wenzel and Dzieciolowski. Still leading 4-1, Muhlenberg watched Swarthmore mount a threat in the bottom of the sixth. But with runners on first and second and nobody out, Wenzel (left) fielded a sharply hit grounder at third base, alertly stepped on the bag and fired to first for a rally-killing double play.

“That was awesome,” Dzieciolowski said of the timely twin killing. “It really energized the whole team.”

Led by Wenzel, who caught three line drives, the Mules played error-free defense in both games.

Kline reached base in all but one plate appearance on the day, going 4-for-5 with four runs scored, three RBI and three walks. Wenzel finished 4-for-6 with two runs scored and Schell wound up 4-for-8 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base.

“I think we are just starting to hit our peak,” Dzieciolowski said. “We can only go up from here.”
Click here for line scores.
Click for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2