Home runs help Pirates out of early-season skid

The Seton Hall softball team took down Fairfield, 9-7, on Tuesday afternoon at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field. After losing four straight games and 12 of its last 14 overall, Seton Hall was able to slug its way to a much-needed victory, as the Pirates hit four balls into Ivy Hill Park. In the process, Seton Hall secured its first home victory of the season.

With the score tied at 7-7 in the bottom of the sixth, Alexis Walkden – who had already hit a home run two innings prior – blasted a shot out of the park to secure the Pirates their first lead of the game. Walkden hit two of Seton Hall’s four home runs, as the Pirates climbed back from deficits time and time again to earn the win.

Renee Nunez/Staff Photographer

In the first inning, Fairfield came out firing on all cylinders, as the Stags put up three runs and forced Pirates starter Alannah Basile out of the game after only two outs. From there, Seton Hall reliever Madison Strunk came into the game and settled things down.

With runners again in scoring position for the Stags in the top of the second, Strunk was able to help Seton Hall escape without a runner crossing the plate. The inning proved to be a rallying-point for the Pirates, who rattled off two runs in the second and third inning, with Hailey Arteaga hitting a two-run home run in the third. Seton Hall did surrender a run in the third, though. As a result, the score was knotted at 4-4 at the end of three.

“Strunk plugged a big hole that we needed to, and that’s what she’s been doing,” head coach Paige Smith said. “Strunk out of the bullpen just comes in firing, and it’s cool; it’s really good to see her put the team on her back like she did today.”

Strunk pitched 5.1 innings, allowing four runs – three of them earned – on nine hits. The junior earned the win on the day, with her record improving to 6-8.

Fairfield did regain their lead with a three-run fourth inning, and the Stags held the Pirates to no runs in the bottom half of the inning, giving them a 6-3 lead at the end of four. Although, Seton Hall responded with a three-run inning of their own in the fifth, led by the reigning Big East Player of the Year Walkden. This time, the Pirates gave Fairfield a taste of its own medicine, by not allowing the Stags to score a run at their next time trying.

From there, Walkden would hit her game-winning home run in the sixth, as she finished another solid performance in which she was 3-for-4 with a double and two home runs.

After four defeats at home, Smith was happy to get the monkey off the back with the first home win of the spring.

“It’s really important, it’s really important. I think that, when you start losing – whether they’re tight games or whether they are, you know, like our last couple – it starts playing with your confidence a little bit”, Smith said. “We’re a young team; we’re starting three and four freshmen almost every game. And again, I think it speaks a lot to our senior leadership, that, both the starters and non-starters that are freshmen have been able to perform this way.”

Up next for Seton Hall is a Big East road series in Indianapolis, Ind. against Butler. The first of those three games, is scheduled for Friday, March 30, with first pitch at 12 p.m. EST.

Evando Thompson can be reached at evando.thompson@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @Thompsev.

Author: Evando Thompson

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