Softball sweeps doubleheader against AIC

Joe Klaus, Staff Writer

Opening day for the New Haven softball team was highlighted by a walk-off triple followed up by a no-hitter by Mia Iodice to sweep the American International College Yellow Jackets and beat out the weather for their first two conference wins and open up their home schedule for the 2022 season. They’re not the only winners because fans who bet on them on sites like betend are definitely coming home with smiles on their faces.

Preview

After starting their season with 12 straight games on the road, ten of them being in Florida at the NTC Spring Opener, the Blue and Gold returned home sitting at 5-7 on the year. They finally got their chance to play in front of their home crowd ahead of a weekend of back to back conference doubleheaders opening against AIC on Saturday. After meeting the Yellow Jackets to wrap up the home regular season for the Chargers in 2021, this weekend series was the 91st and 92nd all-time matchup between the two with the Blue and Gold holding the series lead 52-38. The Blue and Gold swept AIC going 4-0 in 2021 and looked to continue their success against the Yellow and Black in 2022. AIC entered the series 2-8 on a five game losing streak, heading into their first conference games of this season.

Game 1

In the first game in West Haven, Selena Aponte entered the circle and dominated from her first pitch to her last. After a leadoff walk, Aponte got the second Yellow Jacket batter to pop up before a single and finished the inning off with a strikeout and another pop up. With their first swings at home, the bats did their work with two outs. Nahtali Simpson stayed hot, advancing to second on an error by the center fielder. Jovanna Hillman spent no time switching places with Simpson, doubling to the right center gap, replacing Simpson and getting the Chargers on the board first while the home crowd got involved in the game early. Turning it back over to Aponte in the circle, it was quick work for her, cruising through the next five innings striking out two batters and allowing only three hits with a strong defensive performance behind her. Down to their last three outs, the Yellow Jackets strung together three hits, tying their game total in that inning and sneaking two runs across. Turning to the home half and the Chargers down one, the rally caps came on with eight, nine, top due up for New Haven. Ashley Veisz led the inning off, reaching on an error; this was the motivation they needed to keep going. Hailey Laforte then advanced Veisz to second and one out with Mya Case and the top of the order up to bat. Case reached first on an infield single, setting up runners on the corners and Hailey Polisano entering the box. Polisano, looking for her first hit, took the first pitch she saw driving it over the left fielder’s head, scoring Veisz from third. Head coach Don Justsus coached third wave Case to score from first before continuing her run to Polisano and celebrating the walk-off win.

Game 2

Following the walk off during game one, Iodice wanted her own storyline for the sweep of the Yellow Jackets. After the offense took the story in the first game, Iodice went out and threw a no-hitter in five innings of work, dominating in the circle and finishing with 6 strikeouts on 58 pitches. Iodice would then strike out the side in the first, which set the tempo for the rest of the game, sitting down the Yellow Jackets in each of the 5 innings. In the home half of the second game, the Chargers led off with a single from Jovanna Hillman who advanced to third on a double by Ashley Veisz. Hallie Fredrick soon broke the scoreless streak, singling to center and scoring Hillman and Veisz to get the scoring going for the second game. They were held to two runs, but after one of them, Iodice scored a perfect inning in the third while the offense got going right where they left off in the second. With the top of the order leading off the inning, Mya Case got things started, singling and that really got things rolling; en route to a 8 run inning was highlighted by an Ashley Veisz grand-slam. The Blue and Gold continued to capitalize on the Yellow Jackets errors and find the outfield grass, giving Iodice and the team a 10-0 lead. That was more than enough for Iodice, who through the rain would finish off the last two innings of work, finishing off the no-hitter and getting the sweep of AIC at the end of the day.