The Seton Hall softball team dropped its non-conference home opener by a score of 6-1, against Central Connecticut State on Tuesday afternoon.
Madison Strunk got the start for the Pirates in the circle on a frigid March day. The junior went the distance giving her team seven innings, while striking out three in the process.
The Hall fell behind early after the Blue Devils struck first on a Gianna Hathaway RBI-double in the top half of the first. However, the Pirates bounced back by knotting up the score in the home-half of the inning.
The Pirate’s run came after an Alexis Walkden two-out walk, as Hailey Arteaga tied the game up on an RBI-double off the right-center field wall on the second pitch she saw.
“We like our Hailey when she’s aggressive, and she jumped on the ball early in the count,” Head Coach Paige Smith said. “Hailey’s been grinding and she came out super-hot this year. She went through a patch where it seemed like she was hitting the ball right at people, but we just kept saying ‘It’s going to fall, just stay consistent.’”
Both pitchers settled down, as the two teams traded zeroes until Central Connecticut State re-took the lead in the fourth, on a Kaitlin Paterson RBI-double. The lead could have been more if not for the defense of Pirate centerfielder Janae Barracato. The play from Barracato came with the score still tied, with the freshman charging a single up the middle and firing home to throw out the go-ahead run at the plate.
“[Barracato’s] been doing it all year and we have quite a few assists from her in the outfield,” Barracato said. “She’s plays outfield with an infield mindset so there’s never anybody she can’t throw out,” Smith said.
Central Connecticut State added to its lead with four runs in the top half of the seventh, and closed out the game in the bottom half, 6-1.
The Pirates drop to 13-16 with the loss, but it’s not all negative for Smith, as the Pirates are turning the corner from some early-season injuries, just in time for their first conference game.
“We’re excited to have everyone back. We’ve been a little banged up, but it looks like everybody is on the mend,” Smith said. “We’re really proud of the way the kids competed today, but it’ll be nice when we have 22 athletes again.”
Seton Hall will play its first two Big East games in a double-header against DePaul on Saturday, March 24 at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field. First pitch in the opening game is set for 12 p.m.
Nick Santoriello can be reached at Nicholas.email@example.com or on Twitter @NickSantoriello.