Picked 8th In Pre-Season Poll, Softball Now 2nd in Big East
Liam Tormey ’22
Before the beginning of the season, the Friar softball team was projected in the 2022 Big East Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll to finish eighth. Currently, they sit in second in the conference at 8-4, only behind the University of Connecticut.
The quick start to the season for the Friars has them at a 21-9 record: 7-1 at Glay Field, 5-3 away from home, and 9-5 on neutral settings.
The season began in the middle of February with the Elon Softball Phoenix Invitational. This consisted of five games for the Friars with contests against Elon University, Morgan State University, and University of Massachusetts Lowell University.
After five games in three days, the Friars came out with a 4-1 record and a nail-biter ending in a 9-7 victory over Morgan State University in eight innings, thanks to four runs in the top of the eighth from Lauren Nunez ’22, Micaela Abbatine ’22GS, and Jacque Harrington ’24.
Next, the Friars traveled to Santa Barbara, CA to compete in the University of California-Santa Barbara Invitational. It became a bit of an eye-opener this weekend for the Friars to know they still needed improvement after a successful first weekend.
With games against Idaho State University, UCSB, and Boise State University, the Friars came away 1-4 on the trip, with the sole victory coming against Idaho State in a 3-1 game.
Things then started to click for the Friars as they won nine of their next 10 games. It began at the DeMarini Tiger Clash in Maryland where the Friars left undefeated. An 18-0 victory in five innings over Coppin State University, followed by wins against Towson University and Columbia University, and topped off with another victory against Coppin State.
Coming back to Rhode Island with a 8-5 record in the beginning of March, the Friars had a lot to be happy about. Right before Big East play was about to begin against Seton Hall University, the Friars headed across town to matchup against Brown University. A 6-1 victory due to six runs in the first inning helped secure the win.
Then came the first game of the Big East against the Pirates, a rude awakening for the Friars, but they did not let it deter them on the road. It opened with a 8-0 loss in six innings on Thursday, March 10, but the rest of the weekend saw the Friars grab the series. 3-1 and 2-1 victories on Friday had the Friars coming back home with a successful weekend.
In games one and two on Friday, Daniela Alvarez ’22 picked up her fifth and sixth win of the season. In game two, Alvarez allowed only two hits and struck out four batters. Alvarez is currently 7-2 in the win-loss column on the year, appearing in 18 games and pitching 69.1 innings with an earned runs average (ERA) of 3.74.
Big East play would be on hold for a few days as the Friars hosted Merrimack College to a double-header for their first home games of the season at Glay Field. Once again, the Friars picked up two more wins on the day, making it their best 20-game start to the season since 2006. That year, the Friars were 16-4 through the first 20 games. This year’s team was 14-6.
Big East play resumed the weekend of March 18 and the Friars hosted St. John’s University. The outcome of the weekend would be similar to the weekend against the Pirates. The Friars dropped the first game 2-1, but then picked up two victories to complete the series victory over the Red Storm.
The following week, the Friars headed down to Kingstown to face the University of Rhode Island where they clawed out a 3-2 victory in eight innings over the Rams. Abbatine brought home the game-winning run with an RBI single in the eighth.
The Friars would travel to Nebraska to face Creighton University that weekend, where they dropped their first series of Big East play, going 1-2 on the weekend.
A bright spot for the Friars this week was newcomer Rachael Petrarca ’25 making the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. Petrarca went 7-12, recording a .583 batting average on the week. She hit her seventh homerun of the season in the victory over the Rams. Petrarca hit three RBIs in the weekend series against Creighton, two of them coming in the 10-7 victory.
Petrarca has started in all 30 games, batting .337 on the year, and she is tied for the team’s lead in hits and home runs at 31 and seven respectively with Harrington.
The final day victory in the series over the Bluejays continued into the home series against Georgetown University. A sweep of the Hoyas this past weekend has put the Friars in second in the conference.
Pitching has been a key element for the Friars this season. Besides Alvarez, Tori Grifone ’24 and Jessica Walter ’25 have been outstanding. Grifone has posted a 2.46 ERA and a 9-5 record on the season in 19 appearances. Walter has a 4-2 record with a 4.52 ERA. There has been a major difference in the Friars’ record to start the season.
Before continuing Big East play against first place UConn on Friday, April 15, the Friars will have a chance to continue their roll with four non-conference games.
Not many people would have expected the Friars to be in the position they are to start conference play, but they have taken on the opportunity and are ready for anything.