The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who hosted the Fairfield University softball team Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23., began the spring 2020 season in Greensboro, NC for the UNCG Invitational. During that span, Fairfield faced UNC Greensboro once, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill once and Purdue University twice. Over the weekend, they went a disappointing 1-3.
On Friday, the game slated for 5 p.m. on Friday against UNC Greensboro was cancelled, so the Stags had to wait an extra day before seeing the field. At 12 p.m. on Saturday, Fairfield would pick up their only win of the weekend against UNC at Chapel Hill, with an 11-2 blowout. At the top of the first inning, Amanda Ulzheimer ‘20 singled to second base. When Mikayla Rubin ‘21 singled to shortstop, Ulzheimer proceeded to second. Then, Olaff grounded out to second base, sending Rubin to second and pushing Ulzheimer to third. Sophomore Kaitlin Hoffman singled to third and Ulzheimer scored, putting up a run for Fairfield early on. Chapel Hill finished out the first stagnant. One of their players made it as far as third base, however they struck out before she could make her way home. When Fairfield was up to bat at the top of the second, Tahlia Brown ‘22 singled up the middle, but that was the extent of the action. Chapel Hill came back, claiming a lead when they had two hits and a walk, scoring two runs. After that, Chapel Hill threw their hands in the air, and would not manage to find home plate again. In the last five innings, the Stags would score ten unanswered runs, crushing Chapel Hill. On the mound, Katie Kudlacik ‘22 pitched the entire game, striking out four hitters and walking four batters. Notably, Haley Updegraff ‘23, Sam Merino ‘21, Brown, Rubin and Ulzheimer each notched an RBI.
Their momentum shifted downward very quickly that evening against the host team, UNC Greensboro. The Stags were first to the plate, where Merino scored. This would be Fairfield’s only run. In response, Greensboro posted two runs in the first, three in the third, two in the fourth and three in the sixth to round out scoring. Fairfield would register their first loss of the season, by a dramatic 10-run margin, leaving 11 student-athletes on base. Fairfield tallied 21 hits and scored 12 runs between Friday’s two games to split the day 1-1.
The next morning, the Stags took on a Big Ten competitor, Purdue, in a double header. Purdue came out strong, wrapping up the first inning with four runs and two left on base. The early-established lead placed a sense of urgency on the Stags who didn’t seem to receive the message. They let up another two runs between then and the fourth inning until finally Madison Robicheau ‘22 had an RBI when Merino doubled to right center. That same inning, Merino scored on a passed ball, and the score was 6-2. Again, the Boilermakers picked up speed and added another three runs, distancing their lead to seven runs. A two-run double by Kaitlin Hoffman added three more runs to the scoreboard and lessened Purdue’s edge to 9-5, but they were out of time.
The second game of the day was just as disappointing for the Stags as the first, when they dropped the ball 9-1. Mirroring their performance from that morning, the first inning was an eventful one for Purdue. They had a two-run opening inning, and added another two in the second bringing the score to 4-0, unanswered by the Stags. Finally, in the third inning Rubin delivered an infield single towards shortstop. Off of senior Lacey Olaff’s sacrifice bunt allowed Rubin to take second. She was sent home on a base hit by Megan Forbes ‘23 and the score reduced the lead to a manageable three runs. Unfortunately, Fairfield’s scoring efforts started and ended with Rubin’s run and their three hits over the four remaining innings yielded no results. They wrapped up their trip down south with a 9-1 loss, and an overwhelming push to improve.
This Friday, Feb. 28 Fairfield will play in the Liberty University Invitational in Lynchburg, VA. They are slated to play the University of Pennsylvania at 12 p.m.
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