Chowan softball takes three of four

Published 2:06 pm Monday, February 28, 2011

MURFREESBORO – The Chowan University softball team opened defense of its Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship this past weekend with a pair of doubleheaders and one thing seems obvious in 2011.

The ‘Hawk Mystique’ may be gone and everyone in the conference is out to get them.

After sweeping the Saturday twin-bill against Shaw University by scores of, 16-1 and 8-2; and gaining an 8-0 shutout in the first game on Sunday against Virginia State, Chowan saw their 52-game CIAA win streak snapped when VSU took the nightcap, 3-1.

It marked Chowan’s first softball league loss since they came into the CIAA in the 2009-10 season.

“There’s definitely a bulls-eye (on our backs),” said fourth-year coach Mandy Balduf on Saturday. “Everybody wants (to beat) us.

“We know as defending champ that everyone gets up to play you,” she added.  “We’ve talked about it all fall how we’ve got the target and our kids are owning up to that.”

“We’re the team everyone wants to beat,” chimed in senior outfielder Mindy Bird. “They’re all coming at us, so we just have to stay strong.”

The Hawks were strong in game one on Saturday.  Shaw opened the scoring in the second inning when Chowan starting pitcher, junior Allie Kolezynski, gave up a double and later a one-out single that staked the Bears a 1-0 lead.

Chowan came back in their half of the second when senior Brooke Owen’s one-out single delivered Byrd and tied the game at 1-1.

In the bottom of the third inning Chowan batted around, sending 15 batters to the plate and scoring 11 runs off eight hits.

Byrd started the scoring barrage with a bases-loaded triple to score three, then came home on a passed ball.

Freshman Liz Sill drove in two more runs in the inning before senior Tricia Gorman drove in three more. Gorman went 2-for-2 in the inning and scored two runs. Sophomore Megan Wade collected the other RBI and the final run scored when Wade stole home with two out.

Chowan added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, leading to a 16-1 margin and the game was called after four and a half innings due to the mercy rule. Four players went 2-for-3 from the plate with Gorman ending up with a game-high 4 RBIs.

Kolezynski went the distance on the mound for the Hawks, surrendering just three hits and a run while striking out eight.

In game two, Gorman and Byrd got first inning RBI’s to stake Chowan to a 2-0 lead.  Shaw got one run back in the top of the third without a hit: a walk, a steal, an interference call and a fielder’s choice made it, 2-1, Hawks.

It was 3-1 when Chowan broke the game open in the fifth with five more runs.  Sophomore pitcher Lacey Wildeboer had four strikeouts and took a no-hitter into the top of the seventh before the Bears broke it up with three hits and a pair of runs.

Gorman, Owen and sophomore Fahren Munro had two hits each with Munro also scoring a pair of runs.

“People may think last year was a fluke,” said Munro, “but we come out hard and try to prove ourselves every game.”

“Our offense, our running game, and our pitching are on point,” echoed Gorman, “and we have several girls who can play anywhere.”

Chowan won’t get another crack at a CIAA opponent until the Spring Roundup at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Complex on March 11.  The Hawks travel to Mars Hill this Sunday before returning home on Monday to host West Liberty State.