09 Dec 2021 | 14:47 | Softball
BALTIMORE, Md.—Freshman right fielder Tess Cites (Horseheads, N.Y.) hit the first two home runs of her collegiate career and had six runs batted in as Villanova (14-7) rolled to its 11th straight victory with a 12-2 win in five innings over UMBC (10-5) in the first game of a doubleheader at The Diamond at UMBC on Friday afternoon. Cites hit a two-run home run in the top of the third and put an exclamation point on the best game of her young career with a grand slam in the fourth inning.
The big day for Cites is already the third time this season that a Wildcats batter has had a multi-homer game, as the first-year outfielder joins senior pitcher/utility Paige Rauch (Windsor, N.Y.) and junior catcher Ryan Henry (Ramsey, N.J.) with two home runs in a game. Sophomore third baseman Chloe Smith (Sacramento, Calif.) added to the power display with a long three-run home run in the first inning to get the day started. Villanova led 3-0 before it had made an out in the game.
Just as noteworthy as the home runs was the top-to-bottom depth of the Wildcats lineup. The bottom four hitters in the batting order combined to go 8-for-11 with six runs scored and – thanks to Cites – seven runs batted in. Sophomore left fielder Dani Dabroski (Cedar Grove, N.J.) was 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI in the ninth spot of the order, while sophomore catcher Ally Jones (Brielle, N.J.) was 2-for-2 with two singles, a walk and two runs scored in the sixth spot. Junior center fielder Sydney Hayes (Douglassville, Pa.) batted eight and was 2-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base.
Villanova got its offense going from the start, as senior second baseman Angela Giampolo (East Windsor, N.J.) led off the game with a single and Rauch walked before Smith unloaded on a 2-1 pitch for a three-run blast to straightaway center field. She moved into a tie with Rauch for second on the team with four home runs this season.
All the scoring from the Wildcats came in the first four innings. Dabroski doubled to the left-center field gap with one out in the second inning, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice by Giampolo and scored on Rauch’s sacrifice fly to left. There were two outs and nobody on in the third when Jones extended the inning with a single through the left side and Cites followed with her first collegiate home run on a 2-2 drive to right-center which made the score 6-0.
There were runners at the corners with two outs in the fourth inning when Villanova exploded for six runs. Senior shortstop Julia DaCosta (North Attleboro, Mass.) reached on an error which extended the inning and allowed Rauch to score from third with an unearned run, Jones walked to load the bases and Cites delivered for the second time in as many innings with a grand slam to straightaway center field on the seventh pitch of her at-bat. Hayes singled and stole second ahead of an RBI single by Dabroski to cap the inning and push the advantage to 12-0.
The early offense was more than enough run support for Rauch (8-2, 2.55 ERA), who walked none and struck out seven in her seventh complete game of the season. Rauch has won eight consecutive decisions and was easily able to navigate around a solo home run in the fourth inning and a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fifth.
Game two of Friday’s doubleheader was slated to start around 3:30 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova’s 11-game winning streak is tied with an 11-0 stretch during the 2003 season for the third-longest win streak in school history … The only longer streaks are a 17-game streak in 2016 and a 21-game winning streak in 2001 … There have been 30 multi-homer games in school history, including three this season by Henry, Rauch and Cites … Villanova has hit three grand slams in 2021 … The first two came in the same inning of a game at Liberty on February 27 when Henry and DaCosta each went deep … There have been eight games in school history in which a Wildcats batter had six or more RBI … The last instance prior to Cites was a six-RBI game by Megan O’Leary against Saint Francis on February 28, 1999 … O’Leary also hit two home runs that day.