Fuqua, Trinity come out hitting in softball opener
Trinity senior left fielder Jasmine Fuqua woke up Friday morning unsure if the Hillers’ season opener against Waynesburg would be played. With snow falling and temperatures in the low-30s, it was unknown whether the two teams would play their scheduled non-section game.
Snow gave way to sunny skies and 50-degree temperatures for game time, and with Trinity deciding to play at on the football stadium’s artificial turf, Fuqua made the most of the home opener.
Fuqua hit a three-run homer in the first inning and added a solo home run in the third to lead Trinity to a 17-10 victory over the Raiders in a non-section game at Hiller Field.
Fuqua, who is not known as a power hitter, was surprised to see two of her hits soar over the temporary fence in center field.
“That definitely wasn’t expected,” Fuqua said. “It’s a great way to start the season, but it was very shocking. I’m very happy both went over the wall. It’s definitely a big confidence booster, and hopefully I can keep it up.”
The Hillers (1-0) began their search for a top pitcher with sophomore Paige Galentine getting the start in the circle. Galentine struggled in the first two innings, walking five batters, but allowing only two runs. The Raiders (0-1) left six runners on base during that span and failed to capitalize on Galentine walking the bases loaded in the second inning.
Trinity’s offense made up for the sophomore’s first start with an offensive outburst. In the first inning, Fuqua hit the second pitch she faced over the fence for a three-run homer as the Hillers scored four runs. In the second inning, Trinity added four more runs behind a two-run homer by Hali Justice and RBIs by Mary Fitz and Delaney Elling. Fuqua added her second home run on the first pitch she saw to lead off the bottom of the third inning.
“Jasmine is going to be a solid player for us this season,” Trinity head coach Shawn Gray said. “She hit some big bombs today. She was solid. Hopefully, she will continue playing that way for us.”
The Hillers scored eight runs on six hits in the first two innings off Waynesburg starting pitcher Jordan Moore before she was replaced by freshman Tara Staley. The Raiders scored one run in both the third and fourth innings, but Trinity piled on six more to take a 14-4 lead heading into the fifth when Gray replaced his starting lineup with reserves.
All Trinity needed was to close Waynesburg out in the top of the fifth, but Raiders head coach Jim Armstrong’s team had other plans. Junior third baseman Hannah Gibbons, a University of Pennsylvania recruit who went 4-for-5 with two RBI, broke the 10-run deficit with a single up the middle, and Waynesburg added two more runs in the inning.
“I’m very happy with how the girls played,” Armstrong said. “We hit the ball hard and made some good plays out there. We wanted to come here and play a really tough team to get us ready, and that’s what we got.”
The Raiders added three more runs in the seventh to draw within 14-10 when Gray, who is in his first year as head coach of the Hillers, reinserted his starters into the game. Center fielder Kim Dunst hit a two-run double and was sent across home plate when Fritz followed with a single.
The win is Gray’s first as a head coach, and with the offensive prowess his team displayed, he could not have been happier.
“It’s always fun when you win and picking up this first one is great,” Gray said. “We hit from top to bottom and I was excited to see how well we played. I thought we batted well, and we’ll need to build on this for our trip to Florida.”