BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh softball team rode a fast start, scoring five first-inning runs on the way to a 9-1, six-inning win over Holy Cross Thursday in the opening game of the Patriot League Tournament at Leadership Park. With the victory, Lehigh (33-17) advances into the winners bracket and will face defending champion Boston University Friday at 11 a.m. The Terriers defeated Army West Point 6-1 in Thursday’s second game.
Junior Carolyn Wright led Lehigh on offense, going 3-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while classmate Rachel Timberman was 3-for-3 with the game-ending RBI. Sophomore Brianna Gerhardt finished the day 2-4 and drove in two runs and freshman Mary-Hannah Smith hit a home run, helping lead the Mountain Hawks to victory.
The nine runs were plenty for senior Christine Campbell in the circle. She finished the day with three strikeouts and six hits allowed while surrendering only one unearned run in six innings pitched.
Holy Cross starter Alexandra Held retired the first two batters in the bottom of the first but the next eight reached base. Smith opened the scoring with a solo home run to right center, her fourth of the season.
“It was huge for Mary-Hannah to come up with the two-out home run,” Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan said. “It helped everyone relax a little bit. That will be the key for us. As long as we can relax and play good Lehigh softball, we'll have a fighting chance in this thing.”
Lehigh used small ball to score the next four runs. Senior Vicky Lattanzio and Wright helped set the table with a walk and a single, respectively, before sophomore Ashley Quidolit Rabago drove in Lattanzio with a single down the left-field line. The Crusaders looked like they would get out of the inning when junior Katie Schultz hit a ground ball to the shortstop, but Taylor Wahler’s error allowed Wright to score. Gerhardt knocked in the fourth run with a single of her own, before two straight walks to Timberman and freshman Reva Alderman forced in the fifth run.
Lehigh added another run in the second on back-to-back doubles by Lattanzio and Wright. It was Wright’s league-leading 41st RBI of the season.
In the fourth, Wright collected her third hit of the day with a single and advanced to second on an error by the Holy Cross right fielder. After Rabago walked, Schultz popped a ball up to short left field that landed fair just off Wahler’s glove allowing Wright to score.
Holy Cross pushed across a run in the sixth on Kylee Malouf’s RBI single, but Campbell escaped further damage when junior Nicole Yozzo made a diving catch in left field to end the inning, leaving two runners on base.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Lehigh pushed across two more runs to end the game via the eight-run rule. Wright reached base for the fourth time in the game, getting to third on a dropped fly ball by the left fielder. Schultz walked and subsequently stole second before Gerhardt reached on an infield single to the pitcher allowing Wright to score. Timberman ended the game with a single through the right side of the infield driving in Schultz.
“Carolyn and Rae both did a great job today,” Troyan said. “Rae had a tremendous game. The nice thing about our lineup is that it could be anybody. We have capable players one through nine in the lineup.”
Lehigh will face Boston University Friday at 11 a.m. back Leadership Park. The winner will advance to the championship round on Saturday, while the loser will face the winner of the second game of the day between Army West Point and Holy Cross later Friday afternoon. All of Friday’s Patriot League Tournament action will be broadcast on the Patriot League Network.
Game recap courtesy of Lehigh University Athletics.