CALDWELL, NJ - The Caldwell College softball team extended its winning streak to 10 games with a sweep of Wilmington University, 10-1 and 9-2 in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference doubleheader Thursday afternoon at Caldwell Field. The Cougars, who are ranked 10th in the latest NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll, are now 36-4 overall and 20-1 in the conference. The Wildcats drop to 22-20, 14-8 CACC.
The victories also clinch at least a share of the CACC regular-season title for Caldwell for the first time since 2010. The Cougars haven’t won the CACC regular-season crown outright since 2006.
Caldwell took an early lead in Game 1 on a sacrifice fly from junior Alyssa Calderon (Fontana, CA / Etiwanda) that scored sophomore Caitlin McCready (Jupiter, FL / Dwyer) in the bottom of the first inning. After Wilmington tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the third, the Cougars put three runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third for a 4-1 lead. Junior Megan Fryday (San Marcos, CA / Mission Hills) hit a two-run single, and senior Nicole Velardi (Belleville, NJ / Belleville) singled home Calderon in the inning.
Caldwell put the game out of reach with six runs in the bottom of the fourth. Fryday hit a three-run double, while Velardi, freshman Amy Hickman (Jackson, NJ / Jackson Liberty) and senior Jacklyn Bates (Waterloo, NY / Waterloo) also drove in runs.
Sophomore pitcher Amber Padilla (Chino, CA / Pomona Catholic) improved to 13-2 with a complete-game victory, allowing one unearned run on three hits in five innings. Velardi, Fryday and sophomore Brielle Reighn (Runnemeade, NJ / Triton Regional) each had two hits, with Fryday driving in five runs.
In the second game, Hickman delivered a two-run single in the bottom of the second inning to give Caldwell a 2-0 lead. Calderon led off the fourth with a home run, her third of the season, and freshman Lauren Frye (Jupiter, FL / Jupiter) doubled home Velardi in the fourth for a 4-0 lead. Wilmington scored twice in the top of the sixth, including an RBI single by Ashley Bennett, to make the score 4-2. But Caldwell pulled away with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Frye hit a two-run double, Reighn singled home junior Kristen Knorr (Monroeville, NJ / Delsea) and freshman Gracie Sullivan (Elmhurst, IL / York), and McCready hit a sacrifice fly to plate Frye.
Junior Hanna Walkinshaw (Aptos, CA / Aptos) held the Wildcats to two runs on four hits over five innings to improve to 9-0 on the season. Freshman Sydney Ponto (West Deptford, NJ / West Deptford) earned the save with two scoreless innings of relief. Offensively, Calderon, Frye and Hickman each had two hits in the victory.
NCAA Division II East Region Rankings
The Caldwell College softball team is ranked second in this week's NCAA Division II East Region rankings of the season. The Cougars currently are 34-4 overall with a 26-3 record against East Region opponents.
Caldwell can clinch first place in the CACC with a victory in Saturday’s doubleheader at Chestnut Hill College. The first game starts at 12:00 p.m. in Philadelphia, Pa.