ETTRICK, Va. – The Queens College softball team started its 2017 season off on the right foot by sweeping Virginia State in the Knights' season opener on Saturday. Queens rallied for four runs over the final three innings to take game one, 4-3, before cruising to an 11-2 victory in the second game.
Queens 4, Virginia St. 3
The Knights fell behind early, as the Trojans struck first with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Virginia State added to its lead in the fourth inning with two more runs, taking a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning. The Knights had runners on base in each of the first four innings but could not take advantage.
It was the top of the fifth when things started to turn around for the Knights. Sophomore Nicole Michaels scored the first run for Queens after senior Stevianne Ognibene reached on an error with two outs. Senior Kayla Morrissey brought the Knights back within one with a solo home run in the sixth, bringing the score to 3-2.
In the seventh, junior Alyssa Neal led off with a single, and Ognibene stroked an RBI triple in the very next at-bat that scored Neal to tie the game up at three all. The very next batter, junior ToniMarie Valeriano, then followed that up by driving in Ognibene with an RBI single to give the Knights a 4-3 lead. In the circle, Valeriano held off the Trojans' final attack to put the finishing touches on the Knights' season-opening win.
Neal went 2-for-4, while Ognibene, Valeriano, Morrissey and sophomore Lauren Pascual each tallied a hit in the win as well. Valeriano went the full seven innings in the circle to earn the win for Queens. She struck out four and gave up just four hits.
Queens 11, Virginia St. 2 (F/6)
Once again, Virginia State struck first in the second game, this time bringing home two runs in the opening frame to take a 2-0 advantage. The Trojans threatened again the second with two runners on and one out, but junior pitcher Vanessa Juengerkes worked her way out of trouble.
Queens flipped the script in the third inning, however, as Neal belted a three-run homer to give the Knights a 3-2 lead. That was the spark that the Knights needed, continuing their offensive attack with runs in each of the final three innings as well.
The Knights took advantage of an error and a wild pitch in the fourth with a pair of runs, giving them a 5-2 advantage. Then in the fifth, Valeriano scored on a wild pitch, and Juengerkes ripped a two-run triple that brought home Morrissey and senior Kristen Boody. Juengerkes then scored in the next at-bat to give Queens a 9-2 lead. Valeriano gave Queens two more runs in the sixth, cracking an RBI double and then scoring on a wild pitch, as the Knights rolled to a nine-run win.
Every batter scored at least one run for the Knights. Neal went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Valeriano went 2-for-4 with two runs, while Boody also went 2-for-4 with a run. Juengerkes did it all, in the circle and in the batter's box. She went 1-for-3 with two RBI and two runs at the plate, while striking out five over six innings and giving up just three hits to earn her first win as a Knight.
Queens was originally scheduled to travel to Lincoln (Pa.) for a doubleheader on Sunday, but the game has been postponed to a later date due to inclement weather. The Knights will return home for a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 22, against Southern Connecticut at 2 p.m.