SU softball finishes with one win in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

SU softball finishes with one win in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Syracuse beat Penn State 11-1 after five innings on Saturday afternoon.
Published: February 18, 2019

The Syracuse softball team dropped to 2-6 on the season following a second consecutive 1-3 weekend to open the year, splitting a weekend series with Penn State and dropping both contests with Indiana as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Coming off its first win of the season last Saturday against Grand Canyon, Syracuse dropped its first two games in Durham on Friday, ultimately getting off the schneid on Saturday afternoon before falling once more on Sunday.

The Orange’s weekend was highlighted by a Saturday afternoon blowout win, with Syracuse dominating Penn State to the tune of an 11-1 victory in just five innings. Having dropped a tight 3-2 tilt to the Nittany Lions the day before, Syracuse was firing on all cylinders in the rematch. A nine-run fourth inning complemented a standout performance from pitcher Sophie Dandola, who in five innings gave up just one run and struck out two Penn State batters for a total of three strikeouts.

This win was the first for Dandola since her transfer from Hofstra. She currently leads the Orange pitching staff with a 2.17 earned run average on the season.

The 11 runs marked the most Syracuse had scored in a game this season, with the previous high being eight in a season-opening loss to San Diego State.

The Orange dropped both matchups with Indiana, which is ranked as high as 24th nationally. After a close 6-5 setback on Friday afternoon, Syracuse closed play with a 5-1 Sunday morning defeat at the hands of the Hoosiers in a game that featured freshman pitcher Peyton Schnackenberg throwing 4.2 five-hit innings in her first collegiate start.

First year coach Shannon Doepking’s squad was led all weekend offensively by the senior tandem of Alicia Hansen and Bryce Holmgren. Holmgren, a preseason all-ACC selection, scored in three of the four games while recording at least one hit in all four, raising her batting average on the season to a team-leading .438 mark. Hansen provided the power in the lineup, with a triple and four runs batted in sparking the Orange’s lone victory, while she also smacked a double against Indiana and recorded two multi-hit games.

This year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge featured 10 softball teams from each conference taking part in games all weekend at four locations, and another two teams competing at the inaugural ESPN St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in Florida. The Big Ten won this year’s edition in resounding fashion, claiming 22 of 32 games after the ACC had gone 26-14 against their Midwestern counterparts last year.

Syracuse had not been included in the softball edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge since its inaugural year in 2016.

The Orange will now look to regroup this week before traveling to Gainesville, Florida next weekend for the Bubly Invitational. They’ll match up twice with the host Florida Gators, who are ranked fourth nationally, along with two games against Florida A&M and one against Illinois State.