Late home runs lead softball to tournament win
Down one run in the top of the seventh inning, the Pirates hit back-to-back home runs to defeat Caldwell College and win the Seton Hall Tournament on University Day.
Sophomore Kristen Kaelin started the rally off by hitting a home run off of the left field scoreboard to tie the game at two.
Freshman Brooke Tull came to the plate next and belted a home run to deep right field to give the Pirates the 3-2 lead.
Hannah Hill then came into the game in the bottom of the seventh to close the game and give the Pirates their second victory on the day, as well as the Seton Hall Tournament title.
The Pirates were aided by strong defensive performances by the middle infield tandem of sophomore second basemen Lauren Canulli and freshman shortstop Brittany Hammer.
“They stepped up for us with (junior shortstop) Brittany Schillizzi out and their play was flawless, it was phenomenal,” head coach Ray Vander May said.
The strong play of the freshmen in the tournament did not surprise Vander May.
“Hannah Hill trained out of season and it is an extremely good pitcher; she will be able to contribute to the pitching staff immediately,” Vander May said. “Tull hit her third homer of the preseason into the backyards at Ivy Hill Park; she has a very potent bat.”
The Pirates dominated Bloomfield in the first of the two exhibition games.
The lopsided victory by the Pirates was attributed by Vander May to the strength of the pitching from Hill, as well as their play in the field and force at the plate.
“We were flawless in the field,” Vander May said. “We looked very strong defensively. We hit the ball extremely well.”
Seton Hall finished last season ranked eighth in the Big East with an overall record of 24-31-1 and a 10-15 record in conference play. The Pirates were eliminated by No. 1 seed DePaul 1-0 in the Big East Championships.
The Hall graduated five seniors last season, but has added a strong cast of freshmen who will come in and contribute immediately.
Hill is a two time Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, an award given yearly to the top athlete from each state and the District of Columbia, and may be looked upon to step in and contribute on the pitching staff.
Brittany Hammer was an all-state shortstop in Pennsylvania last year as well as Pennsylvania Defensive Player of the Year. She will be playing and rotating the middle infield positions with Canulli and Schillizzi.
Tull was a first team all-state pitcher from Delaware who will play all over the field for Seton Hall.
Tull will be primarily situated in the lineup at first base or as the designated hitter because of her dangerous power at the plate. She may be seen on the mound as well.
“She has the ability to be a good pitcher,” Vander May said. “She needs more development.”
The Hall also added Connecticut All-State outfielder Cashel Gaffney and hard hitting corner infielder Kirby Groves from Pennsylvania.
“We’re going to be a surprise team this year, we’ve improved,” Vander May said. “I have not seen a team like this since 2004-2005 when we won the Big East Championship.”
Colin Rajala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.