JCU Softball drops OAC competition as they struggle against familiar opponents


JCU Sports Information Department

The Blue and Gold bring it in prior to their double-header match up against the Cardinals on Tuesday.

Paul Raglow-DeFranco, Staff Reporter

All eyes were on John Carroll Softball this past Sun., Apr. 2 as they looked to add a couple of more wins to their 10-4 record in their double-header game against Muskingum. Coming into the matchup, the Blue Streaks were off to their best start in 10 years despite the drastic coaching changes over the off-season.

“I think everybody has bought in,” says first-year head coach Alex Lagesse. “Everybody had a lot of good ideas of where they wanted the program to go. How the energy of the team wanted to be moving forward and I think their energy has been great.”

Unfortunately, the Blue Streaks faced their first major step-back of the season as they dropped both games to the red-hot Fighting Muskies, 6-2 and 1-0 respectively. 

Game One

Muskingum wasted no time getting on the board with a solo-home run from Claire Guilliams ‘23 to begin the bottom of the first. The Fighting Muskies proceeded to earn back-to-back singles courtesy of a throwing error and a groundout that put them up 3-0. 

Meanwhile, John Carroll’s offense started ice cold as their first nine batters resulted in nine straight outs. It wasn’t until the fourth inning when a pair of sacrifice flies from Kaylyn Odelli ‘25 and Jess Lichota ‘24 wherethe Blue Streaks were able to muster up a couple of runs to cut their deficit to one. 

The bottom of the sixth proved to be the death blow for the Blue and Gold. Following a pitching change, Emily Graves ‘26 for Danielle Orendi ‘24, Muskingum’s Sarah Piteo ‘23 delivered a two-run home-run to right center to extend their lead to 5-2. 

Yet again, the John Carroll offense struggled to find much rhythm as they produced yet another scoreless inning in the sixth inning courtesy of a near-perfect performance from Muskingum’s Hannah Smith ‘23. She finished with eight strikeouts and an ERA of 2.00. Given her performance, Smith now leads the OAC in strikeouts at 64 while also being tied for first in wins at a total of  nine.

In the end, The Fighting Muskies were able to add an insurance run in the sixth as they took game one with a final score of 6-2.

Game Two

Unlike game one where the Muskingum offense was on full display, game two proceeded to be much different as they struggled to find an answer against Blue Streak pitcher Brianna Callow ‘25. Meanwhile, the Blue Streak offense in game two was a near duplicate of their game one performance as they continued to struggle to get to first base.

Pitching was at an all time high between Muskingum’s Madelyn Thomas ‘24 and John Carroll’s Callow as they went toe-to-toe with one another for seven straight innings. 

Thomas got the ball rolling as she retired the first twelve Blue Streak batters. Callow’s outs did not come as easily as she surrendered a walk and a couple of singles through the course of four innings. However, she escaped with zero runs given up.

The Blue and Gold ended Thomas’ bid at a perfect game in the fifth as Maddie Traub ‘23 singled up the middle. The momentum was short lived as Lexie Genovese ‘25 lined out to second base for the third and final out. 

Following another scoreless inning, the game found itself at a 0-0 score with one inning to go. Muskingum’s Thomas did her job in the top of the seventh as she earned three fly outs on three straight Blue Streak batters. Meanwhile, The Fighting Muskies put pressure on Callow as Piteo singled to left field. Moments later, Taylor Stemmerding ‘26 reached second on a throwing error by the third baseman allowing for Piteo to reach third base. With runners in scoring position, an errant pitch in the dirt by Callow proved to be the difference as Piteo was able to score on a passed ball to give Muskingum the walk-off win of 1-0.

Thomas finished with five strikeouts while allowing just one hit against batters faced. As for Callow, she finished with four strikeouts and an ERA of 1.74.

Elite pitching from Muskingum’s Smith and Thomas and the lack of offense from the John Carroll offense proved to be the decisive factor in both of the Blue Streak losses as they combined for just three runs between the two games.

Despite the minor setback, John Carroll still held an impressive 10-6 record on the year as they then hosted Otterbein University in a double-header matchup on Tues., Apr. 4 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. However, the Blue and Gold lost both games with heartbreaking scores of 1-2 and 0-5 as they were unable to make it around the diamond more than once. The team now sits at 10-8 overall and 0-4 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. 

John Carroll will be back in action on Fri., April 7 as they travel to Columbus, OH for more OAC double-header competition against Capital University.