Kuwik’s sterling pitching performances lead Syracuse to doubleheader sweep of Villanova

September 17, 2020

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 18, 2013 at 12:27 am Contact Jesse: | @dougherty_jesse With three balls, two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied, Corinne Ozanne stood 60 feet from a Syracuse victory.Representing the winning run, Ozanne needed something from Danielle Chitkowski. After Chitkowski watched ball four sail well off of the outside corner, Ozanne slowly trotted down the third-base line and clinched an Orange win, tapping her right foot on home plate.Syracuse streamed out of the third-base dugout to celebrate the 3-2 walk-off win. Ozanne was embraced by her teammates, Morgan Nandin and Jasmine Watson exchanged a celebratory hug, and Leigh Ross beckoned her team to line up and shake hands.But lost in the euphoria of the exciting win was senior pitcher Stacy Kuwik, Syracuse’s workhorse and hero on the day.Syracuse (16-22, 4-7 Big East) took both games of a doubleheader against Villanova (15-22, 2-11) at SU Softball Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. SU’s offense was unable to build its lead in a 1-0 win in game one, and missed many opportunities to put the Wildcats away in a 3-2 victory in game two. But despite a lack of offensive support, Kuwik leaned on the strength of her arm and the fielding behind her to steal the show.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I am so proud of her,” pitching coach Jenna Caira said. “Everybody has humps to get over, and today was huge for her.”After a dominant junior season, Kuwik has struggled since the start of conference play in 2013. With the absence of Lindsay Taylor, she has been called upon to throw a lot of innings, and has struggled to keep opponents off of the scoreboard.On Wednesday, Kuwik forgot about her struggles and focused. In 14 innings over two games, she gave up just two runs and commanded the confidence of a team itching to win its first home conference game.As each inning passed, Kuwik’s fastball grew stronger and her confident smile grew wider. Villanova third-base coach Gerry Mauro kept urging Wildcat hitters to find the right pitch to hit, but Kuwik wasn’t yielding anything over the plate. Her strong command allowed her to get quick outs, and she threw a total of 11 pitches in the third and fourth innings of game two.“You could see her smiling out there and having fun with her teammates,” Caira said. “I keep telling her to stop thinking so much and just pitch, and it turned into a fantastic job.”Yet Kuwik didn’t act alone.Up 1-0 in the top of the fourth of game one, Villanova’s Sierra McConnell slapped a ground ball to Nandin at shortstop. Nandin scooped it up, quickly fired the ball home and Ashley Dimon slapped the tag on Valerie Ortega to keep the Wildcats from tying the game.With the game tied at 2-2 in the top of the sixth in game two, the Orange defense delivered once again. McConnell hit another ground ball to Nandin, who faked to first then threw out pinch runner Danielle Lewandowski leaking off of third. One play later, Veronica Grant threw pinch runner Kera Pezzuti out at the plate after Julie Smith singled to center.“We had a good practice yesterday and have been taking a lot of fielding reps,” Nandin said. “Everyone made good decisions and we did our best for Stacy today.”After two dramatic outs, Kuwik took matters into her own hands. Center-fielder Shea Palmer swung and missed at her 1-2 offering, and Kuwik pumped her fist and briskly ran toward the dugout where an energized team awaited.“I love the feeling of getting the out myself,” Kuwik said. “It’s nice to have the girls playing well behind you, but striking a girl out is the best thing.“It was good to get some personal wins today, but I was just glad to be here for my team and help us win as a group.” Commentslast_img

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