After having to delay the start of their 2013 season by a couple of days, the HBU Huskies softball team opened their inaugural season as members of the Southland Conference in as good a manner as they could have hoped for.
The Huskies captured wins in all four of their games in the McNeese State Cowgirl Classic in Lake Charles, La., including a record-setting 16-1 blowout of Southern on Sunday afternoon, to open the campaign 4-0.
The 4-0 start for the squad is the program’s best since a 6-0 opening to the 2007 season.
During their weekend in Lake Charles, he Huskies defeated Southern twice, opening the tournament with a five-inning 8-0 win over the Jaguars on Friday afternoon, as well as Alcorn State (9-0, five innings) and Louisiana Tech (5-4) on Saturday.
HBU outscored their opponents by a combined 38-5 total. Sunday’s win produced a new individual record for the program and perhaps introduced a potential new star for the Huskies.
Freshman outfielder Kirsten Schwirtlich led the offensive attack with eight RBI on Sunday, which set a new single-game record. She was 2-for-4 in the game, with a grand slam and three-run home run.
But that effort was just the culmination of a notable debut for the newcomer from Tuloso-Midway in the Coastal Bend area. Schwirtlich went 7-for-12 (.583) with two doubles, three homers and 13 RBI over the weekend.
In fact, it was a good weekend for anyone in a Huskies uniform named Schwirtlich at the plate.
Kirsten’s sister Lauren, a junior transfer from Texas A&M, went 6-for-9 (.667) with two triples, a home run and six runs scored in the four-game set.
Junior pitcher Kendall Stiefel (1-0) picked up the victory in Sunday’s finale, allowing six hits, an earned run and two walks. She struck out eight of the 21 batters she faced. Stiefel joined three senior hurlers who also earned wins at the Cowgirl Classic.
In Friday’s opener against Southern, Lori Earl (1-0) earned the victory in her first career appearance for HBU in the circle. She allowed two hits, a walk and a strikeout in five innings.
In the game against Alcorn State on Saturday, Keely Shuler (1-0) faced just two batters over the minimum in her five innings of work, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out eight.
Sarah Shotton (1-0) worked seven innings in the second Saturday contest against Louisiana Tech and allowed just one earned run on five hits.
Shotton was the beneficiary of a two-run seventh-inning rally by her HBU teammates that propelled her to the win.
Trailing 4-3 heading into the final inning, the Huskies got a leadoff double from sophomore Melissa Herman. Callie Herrington pinch-ran for Herman and was driven home on a game-tying RBI double by Michaela Granchelli. Daniella Rodarte’s two-out single then scored Granchelli to give the Huskies a 5-4 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Shotton then retired the Lady Techsters in order to give HBU the win that would set the table for the Sunday romp.
HBU will hope to carry the momentum gained over the weekend into their next contest, which pits them against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Huskies play at #6 Texas in Austin on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. before returning to Husky Field on Saturday for a doubleheader against UH-Victoria that begins at 1:00 p.m.
All of the games will be broadcast on the Husky Sports Network powered by the Legacy Sport Network.