Newark, N.J. – It was a bittersweet affair on Sunday afternoon for the Seton Hall softball team, as the team honored its four seniors, Alexis Walkden, Sara Foster, Alyssa Prukop and Alannah Basile, prior to its 5-3 loss to Creighton at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field.
At third base, second base, first base and designated hitter, respectively, each of the women got the start in their Big East home sendoff.
Much like the weather, the game started hot for the Pirates, as Payton Beaver hit an RBI-double to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. The next batter up, Darby Pandolfo, added to that with a two-run homerun of her own to make it 3-0.
The Bluejays were able to get one back in the top of the second, as Jayci McGill brought home Kelli Finan on a single to left field. Creighton went on to threaten with runners on first and third later in the inning, but Seton Hall pitcher Reganne Camp was able to get a strikeout and avoid any further damage. It was one of four strikeouts on the day for Camp, who went the distance for a second straight day, in the loss.
Seton Hall squandered its fair share of opportunities as well, including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, Janae Barracato made arguably the defensive play of the game. On a deep fly ball, the centerfielder was able to range back and make a leaping catch on the warning track, preventing an extra-base hit.
The Pirates went down quiet in the bottom of the fourth, but the Bluejays did not do the same in the fifth. They managed to get runners on second and third with only one out, which allowed for Sam Crowley to single to center and tie the game.
Crowley was subsequently thrown out attempting to steal second, but, she was called safe due to interference on the base path. That set up Mileah McKelvy to drive Crowley home, giving Creighton the lead, and ultimately, deciding the game.
Seton Hall head coach Paige Smith was visibly upset with the umpires following the call, and expressed her displeasure following the game, too.
“The game should never come down to umpire error,” Smith said. “That’s when they scored. Not making excuses, we should push it out of reach of human error, and we had a lot of opportunities; so many left on base, and we have to be more productive with the outs that we get.”
Finan added an insurance run for the Bluejays in the bottom of the seventh, giving them a 5-3 lead. Seton Hall then went down in order, on four pitches, in the final frame.
Despite the disappointing result, there was a glimmer of hope after the final pitch was thrown. After speaking together, the entire Seton Hall team lined up on the outfield line and signed autographs on team posters for over 60 young softball players.
“Playing in front of kids, and looking behind me there has to be 60 youth athletes,” Smith told reporters following the game. “I’m so proud to roll out the people that my players are, in front of the future of the game. I think that this is really, really, really cool.”
The Pirates return to action next weekend, as they travel to Villanova, Pa., to take on the Wildcats in a three-game series that begins on April 28.
Kevin Kopf can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @KMKTNF.