Chierchia, De La Cruz Allow Softball To Salvage Split

Left-handed softball batter in white uniform leaves batter's box after contact.
Vienna Chierchia was 3 for 4, including her first career home run, during a Mar. 4, 2020, win over Kentucky Wesleyan. (Steve Nesius)

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – A three-hit game by freshman Vienna Chierchia (Manalapan, N.J.) and a strong two-way effort from classmate Alexis De La Cruz (San Jacinto, Calif.) lifted the Felician University softball team to a 4-2 victory over Kentucky Wesleyan College and a split of its two non-conference games on Wednesday during PFX Athletics' THE Spring Games at the DiamondPlex Softball Complex. Felician had begun its day with a 6-0 loss to Glenville State College.

Chierchia collected four hits on the day, including three for extra bases. Among her three safeties against Kentucky Wesleyan was her first collegiate home run. Chierchia is a 2019 graduate of Manalapan High School.

Felician's early-afternoon affair against the Panthers lasted two hours, 11 minutes. Each team left 10 runners on base. The Golden Falcons, playing as the away team, staked senior pitcher Erin Powers (Aberdeen, N.J.) to a 3-0 lead after three innings.

De La Cruz walked with one out in the second, advanced on a groundout and stole third base. She scored when freshman Johanna Rivera (Cliffside Park, N.J.) got a single through the right side. Chierchia and senior Nicole Spiegelberg (Blauvelt, N.Y.) began the next stanza with consecutive doubles. Spiegelberg had continued to third on a throwing error, but stayed put on a groundout and lineout. De La Cruz then beat out a bunt with Spiegelberg scampering home for a 3-0 lead.

Chierchia hit a blast over the left field fence to start the fifth. Her offense followed by loading the bases with one out but could not score again. The Panthers (4-13) used four hits and a sacrifice fly to slice its deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth.

Powers (3-1) faced a second-and-third, none-out jam in the sixth but emerged unscathed. De La Cruz entered the pitching circle from her right field position to start the seventh, and worked around a two-out single to retire the Panthers and earn her first collegiate save. At the plate, De La Cruz was on base four times (1 for 1, three walks).

Rivera was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Spiegelberg, C.J. Apacible (Long Beach, Calif.) and Merrick Gourhan (Oakland, N.J.) also had a pair of hits apiece for the Golden Falcons (3-7). Kentucky Wesleyan freshman catcher Mikayla Benson (Crestwood, Ky.) was 2 for 3 with a triple.

On Wednesday morning, Glenville State junior Celina Maberto (Galt, Calif.) (2-2) pitched a seven-hit shutout. Felician had a baserunner in every inning but the fourth, but was 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

The Pioneers (5-6), playing as the away team, led, 5-0 after two innings. A solo home run from freshman Katelyn Richardson (Princeton, W. Va.) in the fourth capped the scoring. Freshman designated player Peyton Werntz (Conshocton, Ohio) was 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI.

Sophomore Krystina Lorch (Hemet, Calif.) was 2 for 3 for Felician. Classmate Martarina Crumb (Oakland, N.J.) pitched four innings of scoreless, three-hit relief with four strikeouts.

Felician is back at THE Spring Games on Wednesday to play Saginaw Valley State University at 10:15 a.m. and Grand Valley State University at 12:30 p.m. in Winter Haven.