The Seton Hall softball team kicked off the 2016 season with a doubleheader sweep against the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks and the Grambling State Tigers on Friday, Feb. 12 as part of the Louisiana Monroe Mardi Gras Classic in Monroe, Louisiana.
The day started off at 9 a.m. with the Pirates overcoming a late three-run deficit against Grambling State. With eight runs coming in at the bottom of the sixth inning, Seton Hall snagged a 10-5 victory. Senior Faith Laudano and sophomore Alexis Walkden each contributed to the late surge by bringing in three-run home runs in that sixth inning. Outfielder Valerie Suto had a perfect outing, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a run and an RBI.
Junior starter Lauren Fischer finished with a career-high seven strikeouts. The Pirates out-hit the Tigers, 12-5, and went 12-for-30 or (.400) on the day. They held Grambling State to 5-for-26.
In the second half of the doubleheader, the Pirates shut out Stephen F. Austin, 6-0.
Freshman Madison Strunk pitched a full game and only allowed four hits along with a single strikeout and no walks. At the plate, Alex Rabbetts went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. Chrisa Head slugged two hits including a two-run home run. The Pirates were in control after gaining a 1-0 lead in the first inning and added several runs in the fourth and fifth. The Pirates out-hit the Ladyjacks, 11-4, which gave them double-digit hits in each of their first two games.
SFA was shut down offensively. The team went 0-for-8 with runners on base and 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Seton Hall hit 5-for-12 in those situations (.417).
The Pirates allowed a 9-51 (.176) combined performance against SFA and Grambling State on Friday.
It was a day of firsts for Seton Hall. Head slammed her first career home run in the fifth inning against Grambling State. Strunk debuted in her first career start on the mound. Finally, Suto logged her first three-hit game of the year after recording two in 2015.
The Pirates will continue at the Mardi Gras Classic with two games against Prairie View A&M on Saturday, Feb. 13. Games start at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Corey Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.