STEUBENVILLE – After moving the games from Buffalo to its home field, the Franciscan softball team faced an unusual occurrence of batting as the away team. The break in tradition didn't faze the Lady Barons as they completed the doubleheader sweep of D'Youville, Saturday.
In the opening game of the doubleheader, D'Youville struck first to kick off a back and forth battle between the two teams. The Spartans took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first before a two-run home run from freshman Allyson Weiss tied the game in the top of the third. The Lady Barons took their first lead as sophomore Ashley Kondracki singled to left to bring home classmate Anna Fluharty. DYC retook the lead in the fourth before Fluharty homered off of the scoreboard to give Franciscan a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth. D'Youville tied the game for the final time in the bottom of the fifth off a sacrifice fly to right field.
The Lady Barons used a five-run fifth thanks to a bases-loaded fielder's choice from sophomore Dennise Carrazco and a three-run triple from classmate Kathleen Thompson. Fluharty put the final touches on the inning with a single to left to bring home Thompson. Weiss drove in a pair of runs with a two-run double in the seventh to give Franciscan a 12-5 lead. The Spartans did get one run back in the bottom of the seventh but sophomore Jayln Effertz got the final batter of the game to strike out looking with runners on the corners to seal the Lady Baron win.
"After having three really tough losses with letting leads slip away in the seventh innings, I was really proud of how the girls battled today and never gave in," remarked head coach Jim Walker. "We saw a different attitude today and they really felt like they were going to win."
Effertz picked up the complete game win in the first game as she allowed just five hits and six runs, none earned, and struck out five batters.
Freshman Andi Queen followed Effertz' performance in the circle with a complete-game win as well. Queen went all seven innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits while not surrendering a walk.
"We got really good pitching today," continued Coach Walker. "Jay has been dealing with an injury lately but really battled and picked us up in the first game when we struggled defensively. Andi was really solid in game two and our defense was much better."
Carrazco got the scoring going in the second game as she homered with one out in the top of the third inning. D'Youville answered in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 1-1, but it would be all the offense Queen would allow as she shut down the Spartans for the rest of the game. No Spartan runner made it past second base after the third inning.
Franciscan took the lead for the rest of the game in the top of the sixth as Thompson laid down a bunt to put two runners on with just one out and Fluharty roped a single to score Carrazco. Kondracki followed suit with a double to left to bring home Fluharty and give Franciscan a 3-1 advantage. Queen allowed just one base runner, a single in the bottom of the sixth, in the final two innings to earn the win.
Weiss went 3-for-7 for the day with a pair of runs scored, four RBI, two extra-base hits and a stolen base. The freshman now has 21 stolen bases for the season and has only been caught twice.
"Wheeze puts so much pressure on teams with her speed and now she has three home runs," remarked Coach Walker on his freshman leadoff hitter. "I think she is one of the best leadoff hitters in the country."
Fluharty went 3-for-6 for the doubleheader with three runs scored and four RBI, including another home run. Fluharty and Weiss each have three home runs in the last five games. "Wheeze and Flu seem to be taking turns hitting home runs," said Coach Walker. "They have been playing really well."
The Lady Barons will return to action next Saturday when they host Hilbert for an AMCC doubleheader at 1:00 pm. Between the two contests, the Franciscan softball team will honor its lone graduating senior, Lindsey Finch.