SJU softball splits over the weekend

The St. John’s University softball team split the two games they played this weekend at the Wolfpack Challenge in Raleigh, N.C.
The tournament was the third for the team in the last three weekends, as it is coming off a first-place finish at the Longwood Tournament last week.

“We train seven and a half months out of the year, so three consecutive tournaments are rewarding and actually rather normal at this time of year,” head coach Amy Kvilhaug said of her team’s recently packed schedule.

St. John’s started off strong, taking the first game from the College of Charleston, 4-1, in what Kvilhaug deemed “one of the best games of the season.” A dominating performance by sophomore pitcher Linzee Sumrall, who was named Big East Pitcher of the Week last week, led the team. She allowed only three hits in a complete game, surrendering one earned run and striking out nine.

“I’ve been working really hard at practice; really focusing to better my junk pitches,” said Sumrall, in regards to her recent success.

Outfielder Chelsea Durning had two hits, scored a run, and brought in fellow outfielder Kristi Cady in the fourth. Designated hitter Stacia Dopudja and shortstop Jenna Berger also scored for the Red Storm.

On Friday night, the team faced stiff competition in the form of the University of Buffalo. St. John’s got some tough breaks, as the Bulls scored three runs, all on wild pitches. Sophomore Kat Lawrence pitched well, allowing only three hits and striking out seven, but Buffalo’s Sharon Barr was consistently able to get out of jams and finished with a complete game shutout.

“Against Buffalo, I know for a fact we were the better team, we just didn’t play up to our potential,” said Sumrall. The 3-0 final score did not do the Red Storm justice, as they outhit Buffalo 7-3, but stranded all nine batters that reached base. Rachel Paragas and Cady contributed two hits each, but just could not knock a run in against Barr. Durning, Berger and Julia Sanchez each finished the game with a hit.

After Friday’s contests, the rains came and St. John’s saw three of its games cancelled. The team was set to play Canisius College and face the College of Charleston for a second time on Saturday, and finish the weekend with a Sunday afternoon meeting with host NC State.

“We did some things well and our athletes are sticking to the game plan,” said Kvilhaug, “What we are lacking a bit is consistency. We need to continue to build on our progress as we have a tough stretch on the road ahead of us.”

The Red Storm left Raleigh with one win and one loss, giving the team an overall record of 7-4 in the young 2009 season.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the team travels to Monmouth, N.J. on March 7 before traveling to the Hawaii Spring Fling for six games, with scheduled games against such national powerhouses as No.9 California and tournament host Hawaii.