CLERMONT, Fla. (March 22, 2012) -- The Franklin Pierce University softball team concluded its 2012 Spring Break Trip to the state of Florida on Thursday with a pair of tough losses to Sioux Falls in a doubleheader at the National Training Center in Clermont. The Ravens, as they have done the entire trip, battled hard over the 14 combined innings on Thursday, but dropped a 4-3 decision in game one and an 8-2 setback in game two.
Head coach Christine Grenache was pleased with her team's focus and resolve the entire day as the Ravens tried to battle back from a pair of tough losses on Wednesday. Overall, she was pleased with how her team performed in Florida and believes the mistakes that hindered the squad can be fixed through hard work over the remaining weeks of the season as Franklin Pierce battles for a bid to the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs.
The Ravens will come back to the Northeast with a 1-1 record in league play, which is good for a tie for sixth place in the conference out of 16 teams. Franklin Pierce split its doubleheader with UMass-Lowell in Florida last weekend, including picking up a 1-0 win over the River Hawks in the first game of a doubleheader.
The first game of Thursday's doubleheader versus Sioux Falls saw the Ravens get off to a great start as they pushed across a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Senior Jayme Bilafer (Concord, Mass.) got things started when she doubled to right-center field and came around to score as freshman Alicia Dean (Danvers, Mass.) followed by blasting a double of her own to left-center. Junior Jessica Furtado (Taunton, Mass.) stepped to the plate later in the frame, and she too, delivered a double down the left-field line to plate Dean for the 2-0 Franklin Pierce advantage.
The Ravens tacked on a run in the second when senior Rachel Baxter (Cumberland, R.I.) stroked a one-out single and moved to third as sophomore Jamie Wiley (Cape Vincent, N.Y.) tapped a double to right center. Bilafer followed and brought home Baxter with a sacrifice bunt to make it 3-0 Ravens.
Sioux Falls, though, countered with four runs in the top of the third to pull out the narrow victory. Franklin Pierce freshman hurler Kaitlyn Johnson (New Boston, N.H.) started and went 2.2 innings. Classmate Jessica Colson (Feeding Hills, Mass.) came on in relief and went the rest of the way without yielding an earned run and striking out four. Dean reached base three times in the game as she drew a pair of walks to go along with her first-inning double.
The Ravens went right back at Sioux Falls to start game two and scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. Senior Jamie Verner (Natick, Mass.) started the rally with a single and moved up to second as freshman Karissa Forzese (Methuen, Mass.) drew a walk. Baxter stroked a single to load the bases and Wiley blasted a two-run double, plating both Verner and Forzese.
As it had done in the first game, Sioux Falls responded and scored a run in both the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game, and then scored six in the sixth to pick up the victory.
Junior Rachel Allen (Hull, Mass.) started in the pitching circle for Franklin Pierce and went 5.2 innings despite suffering the loss.
Franklin Pierce returns to action Sunday when the Ravens travel to Colchester, Vt. to face Saint Michael's in a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. The Ravens open up the home portion of their 2012 schedule the following day on Monday when they play host to Bentley in a twinbill beginning at 3 p.m. at the FPU Softball Field.
For more information on Franklin Pierce softball, please visit the team's page at athletics.franklinpierce.edu(.) To follow the program even further, please visit Franklin Pierce Athletics on YouTube (www.youtube.com/FranklinPierceSports), Twitter (www.twitter.com/FPUathletics) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens).