Doubleheader at Lilley Field

Vulcans drop two nail-biters in doubleheader with Pitt-Johnstown


Jeff Helsel

Cal softball team gathers for a post-game discussion with the coaching staff.

Andrew White, Staff Writer

The women’s softball team hosted PSAC rival Pitt-Johnstown on Tuesday for a doubleheader at Lilley Field in California. 

These two teams last played on Mar. 21, where the doubleheader was split between the two teams with California posting a 10-2 win and then falling 4-5 in the second game. The Vulcans came into today with a 14-16 record, just two games under .500, and a 7-7 record in conference play. Starting pitcher for the Vulcans was Caleigh Rister, who came into the game with a 7-5 record as a starter. The Mountain Cats started the game with Tori Radvan on the mound.

The first game started with a home run by UPJ’s Kayla Miehl, which gave the Mountain Cats an early 2-0 lead before California was even given the chance on offense. The Junior first baseman has proven to be a vital piece to this UPJ offense, as she upped her home run total to seven on the year, along with 18 RBI’s and a stellar average of .376 for the Mountain Cats. She has been building her case as one of the best offensive players in the conference.

The Vulcans were able to answer in the second inning with a double by Freshman Madison Lester, which pushed Charity Henderson across home plate, making the score 2-1. However, UPJ was quick to respond as they put on a hitting clinic in the 3rd inning, piling up six hits in the top half of the inning which resulted in 3 runs scored, increasing their lead to 5-1. Three runners were also left on base for the Mountain Cats, proving how much worse the inning could have been for the Lady Vulcans. The inning ended with a pop-fly to first base with the bases loaded.

The Vulcans would not go down without a fight, as they bounced back in the bottom half of the third inning with a few hits of their own which led to them scoring two runs, and cutting the deficit to 5-3. Sophomore shortstop Kaitlyn Achtermeier grounded out to shortstop to drive in the first run, followed by a single hit by Charity Henderson that drove in another run.

Miehl continued to dominate at the plate for the Mountain Cats, hitting her second home run of the game in the top of the fourth to drive in two more runs and once again, extended their lead to 7-3. Miehl ended up going 4-5 in the game, with two home runs, three runs scored, and four RBI’s, marking one of the best performances of her college career.

Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Vulcans found themselves down 8-4 with only three outs remaining. The inning started with Achtermeier grounding out to shortstop, giving the Vulcans only two outs to work with if they were going to mount a comeback. Henderson went on to reach base on an error, but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Now down to their final out, the Vulcans started rallying. Izzy Farmer reached base on another error by the Mountain Cats, followed by a single to left field by Lester, who ended up reaching base in all four of her plate appearances, going 3-3 with a run scored, an RBI, and a walk. After she managed to reach base and the Vulcans had a runner on first and second with two outs, Avery Curran stepped up to the plate as a pinch hitter, being the last hope for the Vulcans, and she delivered. On a 1-1 count, Curran connected with a fastball that traveled the length of the field, and left the yard for a three-run home run, making the score 8-7. Sadly, the game came to an end as the next batter, catcher Shayna Postler, flew out to center field to end the game, giving UPJ the win, final score being 8-7. This ended an 11-game losing streak for the Mountain Lions.

Game two was not as exciting as game one, as the Vulcans offense seemed to hit a brick wall early on, accumulating only one hit through the first five innings of the game. Starting pitcher for the Mountain Cats, Mia Smith, put on a dominant performance through the first five innings of play, not allowing any runs and only one hit to the Vulcans lineup. UPJ took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning, both runs coming off the bat of Sophomore catcher, Julia Mooney, as she hit an RBI-single in the third inning and also connected on a pitch for a solo home run in the fifth.

As the bottom half of the sixth inning took place, first baseman Madison Lester delivered with a three-run blast which completely turned the game around for the Lady Vulcans, giving them a 3-2 lead late in the game.  

The Mountain Cats were quick to answer in the last inning when Mooney connected for another solo home run, her second of the game and third on the season, while also improving her average to .333 on the year, having 30 hits on 90 at-bats. The home run tied the game at three a piece in the final inning. The next batter up was Miehl, and it was obvious they didn’t want to give her a good pitch to hit, seeing as she had homered twice in game one and has proven to be a problem for the Lady Vulcans. She walked on five pitches and right away the coaching staff at UPJ made the call to put in a pinch runner for her, which proved to be pivotal for the outcome of this game. With a runner on first, next batter up was Tori Radvan, who hit a rope to deep center field which resulted in a triple, and drove in the run from first base, allowing the Mountain Cats to retake the lead, 4-3. 

The bottom of the seventh came along and once again, the last opportunity for the Vulcans to turn this game around. After two quick outs, the Vulcans chances of a rally started to look promising again, as second baseman Carlena Fiorilli hit a single on a full-count pitch with two outs, followed by Britney Wilson reaching base on an error, resulting in two runners on base and two outs, and Achtermeier up to the plate. On an 0-2 count, she hit a fly ball to center field which ended the game. Mountain Cats come out victorious again, 4-3. UPJ manages to take the season series 3-1 overall. 

The Lady Vulcans dropped to 14-18 overall, and 7-9 in conference play, as the Mountain Cats improved to 9-21 overall, and 4-11 in the conference, with three of their four victories being against the Lady Vulcans. California travels to Erie on Friday to take on Mercyhurst in another doubleheader as UPJ travels to Edinboro as well.