Pirates Softball Advances to BIG EAST Championship for First Time Since 2005

Date: May 12, 2023

By: Bobby Steiner, Andrew Raccuglia, Dovid Holtzman

Seton Hall celebrates a walk-off win in the BIG EAST tournament.

Seton Hall Athletics

The Seton Hall Pirates softball team have made it to the BIG EAST Tournament Championship for the first time since 2005. On the road to the big game, they knocked off conference rivals DePaul, Villanova, and UConn thanks to clutch performances from players up and down the lineup.

On Wednesday, Seton Hall completed an electrifying 5-4 comeback win against the DePaul Blue Demons in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.

The first four innings were a pitcher’s duel between DePaul’s Bella Nigey and the Hall’s Kelsey Carr, as neither team was able to muster any runs.

Despite this, the Blue Demons found themselves in scoring position in the first and third innings. Carr and the Pirates were able to escape each of these jams, along with Carr forcing an impressive double play in the top of the second.

Nigey matched Carr’s performance inning-for-inning, retiring the side in order in four of her first five innings. In the second, she allowed a leadoff single to Shelby Smith, but promptly induced two flyouts and a strikeout looking to end the inning.

The scoreless tie would end up being broken in the top of the fifth inning, as a leadoff single from Addison Talbot and walk by Nicole Sullivan gave way to an RBI single from Baylee Cosgrove.

Talbot would come around to score on Anna Wohler’s single to make it a 2-0 ballgame.

Nigey followed the offensive outburst with another 1-2-3 inning to keep the Hall off the board.

In the sixth, the Blue Demons would tack on another pair of runs. After Shelby Smith struck out the first two batters she faced in relief, she would surrender a two-run single to Cosgrove.

The Pirates were finally able to get some offense going in the bottom half of the frame. After pitching five innings, Carr found herself up to bat with two outs and runners on first and second.

Carr would then launch a three-run homer to cut the lead to just one.

In the following inning, Smith found herself in a jam with a runner on second after a wild pitch. She struck out Carly Alvers swinging to give Seton Hall one last chance at the plate.

Olivia Gilbert led off the bottom of the seventh with a homer off the left field foul pole to tie the game at four. This ended Nigey’s outing, with Abbie Pochie coming in to try and send the game to extra innings.

The first batter she faced, Hannah Alexander, would reach base with a single. Miranda Arruda entered the game to pinch run for her, and she would advance to third following Andrea Perez reaching on an error and a sacrifice bunt from Ashly Colonnetta.

A groundout from Lela Allen and a full count walk by Taylor Hill would bring up Kelsey Carr with the bases loaded after her heroic at bat earlier in the game.

Carr hit a single up the middle to bring Arruda in, completing an electric Seton Hall comeback win.

After advancing past the first round, the Pirates faced the Villanova Wildcats on Thursday in another barnburner.

Shelby Smith. Two-way player.

The senior First Team All-BIG EAST player led the Pirates to a 9-6 victory against the No. 2-seeded Villanova Wildcats, on the back of seven strikeouts and seven RBIs in nine innings.

After giving up a game-tying two-run shot to BIG EAST Player of the Year Tess Cites on the final out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Smith took it personally.

She answered with a three-run homer out to right field in the top of the ninth, putting the Pirates ahead for good.

Following Kelsey Carr against DePaul yesterday, Smith was the Pirates’ second starting pitcher-turned-clutch hitter to keep Seton Hall in the winner’s bracket of this year’s BIG EAST softball championship. They will now play the No. 1-seeded UConn Huskies in the semifinal round tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. EST.

It was also a historic day for senior All-BIG EAST First Team outfielder Abby Wingo, who broke yet another program record. Immediately after Smith’s winning homer, Wingo earned her record 65th hit of the season on a single, breaking the single-season 64-hit record by both Valerie Suto and Katie Peirce.

The bats were hot right out of the gates for both teams, as they each scored on three hits in the first inning. With the bases loaded early up top, Smith ripped a two-RBI double for an initial lead. Villanova answered right back with four runs of their own, powered by a single from Cites, a double by Chloe Smith, and a single by Ally Jones, who took advantage of a wild pitch to reach the plate as well.

Luckily, the Pirates got right back into it on sophomore left fielder Taylor Hill’s second hit of the day. She brought Ashly Colonnetta home on an RBI double of her own, putting the Pirates behind by only one.

Next in line, who else but senior designated player Kelsey Carr started right where she left off from yesterday. She contributed another RBI double to bring Hill back home and tie it up at four.

The next three half-innings were quite a change of pace, as Smith got a quick strikeout, flyout, and groundout in the bottom of the second. The Pirates went down in order themselves in the top of the third, before an interesting delay occurred.

After a walk and a stolen base by the Wildcats, a loose ball from the practicing St. John’s team landed on the field as Smith threw a pitch, resulting in a very long delay to investigate the source. No matter, as the Pirates got three straight outs to get back to work at the plate.

In the top of the fourth, junior infielder Lela Allen started with a single and Carr walked, when Smith took matters into her own hands. She got her second RBI double of the day to put the Pirates up 6-4, in what was her 100th career base hit.

For the next three innings, things were quite stable and uneventful. Smith recorded a total of six strikeouts heading into the bottom of the seventh, holding Villanova without a hit since the top of the first, and only two walks after getting the Pirates ahead.

But the four-pitch walk for Brooklyn Ostrowski changed the game. The Wildcats were down to their final out and Cites drilled a center-field bomb to tie the game at six. Smith stopped the bleeding with a groundout to first, but off to extra-innings they went.

In the eighth inning, the Pirates could not capitalize on freshman infielder Andrea Perez stealing second, but Villanova had three straight groundouts to send it to a ninth.

In the top of the ninth, Hill got herself to first on her fourth hit of the day. Carr remained disciplined through a full count for a walk, and up came Smith once again.

A solid three-run homer to right field did make the difference, but that was not all. Wingo took the first pitch she saw for a single, breaking the record that alluded her for three straight games.

In the bottom of the ninth, Smith was able to close it out in style. Two right field flyouts and a single lead to a final seventh strikeout that caught relief pitcher Peyton Schnackenberg looking.

With an epic comeback, the Pirates’ historic season continued, with only Connecticut standing in the way of a BIG EAST Softball Championship finals game appearance.

With a team that sports the BIG EAST pitcher, defensive player, and coaching staff of the year, they came into the game swinging and never let up, pulling away with a 6-4 win against the UConn Huskies.

After her success against Villanova on Thursday, Coach Angie Churchill gave Shelby Smith the start against UConn, saving star pitcher Kelsey Carr for relief.

Smith came off from a strong game, where she pitched all nine innings and allowed five earned runs. She was no less strong today, allowing four runs on 4.1 innings and just six hits before Carr took over in the fifth.

UConn jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Rosie Garcia doubled deep to center and Taylor Zatyk walked. A double from Makenzie Mason to left center brought Garcia home before Smith retired the inning.

Seton Hall responded in the bottom of the second. Abby Wingo was hit by Kinney’s pitch and advanced to first and a Hannah Alexander double off the left field wall brought her home, tying the game at one.

But the lead was short-lived. Lexi Hastings singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a bunt. A Grace Jenkins sacrifice fly brought her home and handed UConn a 2-1 lead.

But the Pirates had answers. Ashly Colonnetta singled to left to open the bottom of the third, Taylor Hill singled past short, and Carr walked to load the bases. Smith came up to bat and did not let the opportunity get past her, driving the ball over the left-field wall to bring four runs home and give the Pirates a 5-2 lead.

It was not until the top of the fifth that UConn responded. With Smith racking up a pitch count on the mound, Haley Coupal and Hastings singled, and Jenkins doubled to bring Coupal home.

Coach Churchill handed Kelsey Carr the pitching job, and UConn managed to drive one more run home on a sacrifice fly before Carr finished the inning.

With just a one-run lead, Seton Hall added some insurance in the bottom of the fifth. After Hill and Carr struck out, Jenkins intentionally walked Shelby Smith. Wingo singled, Gilbert doubled, and the Pirates extended their lead, 6-4.

UConn could never come back. Carr struck out three of her final six batters and Abby Wingo robbed a home run from Hastings in the seventh, reaching her arm over the wall and coming down with it, to all but end the game for the Huskies.

Shelby Smith made a strong case for taking the BIG EAST Player of the Tournament award, racking up 11 RBIs and two home runs over the last two games, to go with two wins on 11 innings pitched.

Seton Hall is back in action tomorrow night for the Tournament final against the winner of the loser’s bracket – which could be DePaul, UConn, St. John’s, or Villanova.

John Makuch and Ryan Henry will be on the call at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night in Storrs, Conn. Coverage on 89.5 FM WSOU will kick off at 6:30.

Bobby Steiner, Andrew Raccuglia, and Dovid Holtzman can be reached at,, and

Posted in: Sports, Softball

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