Softball: Suffolk sweeps Norwich in GNAC DH

Brittany Vandergroef softball action vs. St. Joseph's (Maine)

EAST BOSTON, Mass. - The Norwich University softball team dropped both ends of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon to Suffolk University.

Despite a strong day from sophomore Brittany Vandergroef (Lodi, N.J) in the circle and at the plate, Norwich (8-12, 2-6 GNAC) dropped its fifth and sixth straight games.

Suffolk (15-12, 5-1 GNAC) topped Norwich 1-0 in Game 1 and then outlasted the Cadets in an 8-5 win in the nightcap to sweep the season series for the second year in a row.

Despite outhitting Suffolk 6-4 in the opener, the Cadets were unable to muster a run in support of a brilliant pitching performance from Vandergroef, who went six innings and gave up one earned run on four hits while striking out one. Freshman Dara Kelly (Chesterfield, N.J.) had two hits to lead the Cadets' offense, but they were unable to score Kennedy Reyes, who fired the complete-game shutout. 

Norwich's best chance to score came in the top of the fourth inning with back-to-back-back singles from Katie Reid (Gold Canyon, Ariz.), Naomi Rinaldo (Middlefield, Conn.) and Vandergroef. However, Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) and Kaylee Blanchard (Worcester, Mass.) hit into fielder's choices, which failed to score runs and then Madelyn Folcik (Wilmot, N.H.) grounded out to end the threat.   

The Cadets threatened again in the top of the sixth, getting two of the first three base runners on in the inning, but were once again turned away by Reyes and the Suffolk defense.

In Game 2, Norwich fell behind 4-0, but rallied to score three in the top of the third to cut it to one. However, Suffolk added three more in the bottom half of the third inning to pull away for good. 

Vandergroef hit a three-run home run to left center field to score Rinaldo and Reid, who each singled to start the inning. 

Ashley Zulla answered for Suffolk with a three-run home run of her own in the bottom half of the inning.

Freshman Faith Poor (New Haven, Ind.) knocked a single through the right side to score Oliver in the sixth inning and then Madison Miller (Patterson, Ga.) plated Blanchard with a fielder's choice RBI in the sixth inningt o briefly cut the deficit to 7-5.

Miller and Rinaldo led the Cadets in Game 2 with two hits each. Oliver took the loss in the circle to fall to 6-6 on the year. 

Norwich will look to get back on track on Thursday when it takes on Lasell College on the road in Newton, Mass. at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The Cadets will then host Regis (Mass.) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in four crucial games for the GNAC playoff picture.