GREENVILLE, N.C. - The Saint Joseph's softball team posted two wins on opening day Friday, downing St. John's and Georgetown in the first day of the Pirate Clash at East Carolina University. The Hawks earned a 4-1 win over the Red Storm to begin the day and finished with a 3-1 victory against Georgetown.
Led by a pair of wins from senior pitcher Taryn Ashway and a 3-for-6 day at the plate by outfielder Dana Parks, the Hawks were the lone team on the opening day of the tournament to wins both of them games.
In the opener against the Red Storm, St. John's took a one-nothing lead in the bottom of the first, but Ashway shut the opposing batters down from there. Allowing just three hits over five innings, the Hawks' allowed her team to rally and take the lead in the top of the third.
With two outs and Parks at second, sophomore shortstop Nicole Palase drilled a triple, allowing her teammate to score and tie the game at 1-1. On the ensuing relay in, Palase broke for home, causing a throwing error by the St. John's shortstop and allowing Palase to put SJU up 2-1.
Saint Joseph's added an insurance run in both the sixth and seventh. Freshman Brandi Harkness hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth that allowed sophomore Melissa Ruf to score from third to make it a 3-1 game. In the seventh, freshman Christina Gonzalez caused havoc on the base path as a pinch runner, stealing second and third, then scoring on a throwing error by the Red Storm catcher to make it 4-1.
The cushion was more than enough for pitcher Liz Mendez as the rookie earned a two-inning save, allowing one hit, while striking out three in her collegiate debut.
Versus Georgetown later in the afternoon, Mendez was dominant over the opening four innings, holding the Hoyas hitless as Saint Joseph's took an early 1-0 lead on a RBI single by senior Deanna Stinner.
The Hoyas took advantage of a SJU throwing error in the fifth, tying the score at 1-1, but the Hawks answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning to regain the lead.
Junior Maria Ficca scored the eventual game-winning run on a throwing error by Georgetown's third baseman off a hit by Parks.
The Hawks would add an insurance run in the sixth as Stinner scored on a two-out double by Morgan Earling.
Ashway, who came in for Mendez in the fifth, picked up her second win on the day, allowing two hits over the final three innings, while striking out five. Mendez, who gave up a leadoff double to start the fifth, earned the no decision despite striking out six and allowing just the lone hit.
Saint Joseph's returns to action Saturday at 8:30 a.m. against Georgetown.