By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — It was a historic weekend for Syracuse softball, as the Orange played indoors for the first time at the Carrier Dome in wins over Colgate and Canisius.
And the centerpieces of that history were a pair of freshmen, Julie Wambold and Carey Leigh-Thomas.
Julie Wambold and Carey-Leigh Thomas of Syracuse
Wambold was 1-for-3 with a run scored as the Orange beat Colgate 6-0 on Friday evening and came back to spark Syracuse to a 6-5 victory over Canisius on Satiurday with a home run and a triple as the local product went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
The Carrier Dome, with room for 49,262 fans, is the largest domed stadium on any college campus in North America and has hosted events from college football and lacrosse games to NCAA basketball regionals and major rock concerts.
But this weekend’s games marked the first time that Syracuse had hosted softball at the iconic facility that is nicknamed “the Loud House” and 1,357 fans showed up for the two games.
Syracuse came out with a burst of momentum against Colgate on Friday, striking for four runs in the first inning, keyed by a three-run homer from Thomas (photo at the left), who has joined Wambold as one of two freshman starters on this veteran team.
Wambold, who has been playing regularly in left field after leading Hatboro-Horsham High School to a pair of PIAA 4-A titles during her prep career, had a single in the fourth and came around to score as the Orange added two more runs.
Jenna Caira hurled five innings of one-hit ball, walked just two and fanned seven batters on the way to her 14th win in 17 decisions this season.
“It was so much fun,” Syracuse coach Leigh Ross said of the event. “There was great energy in here. These girls haven’t gotten the attention they deserve … to have something like this was so exciting.”
Wambold (photo at the right) played a bigger role as Syracuse came back twice from deficits to beat Canisius on Saturday night.
With the Orange trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Wambold drilled a two-out shot over the left-field fence and into the bleachers to tie the game. It was her fourth home run on the season.
An inning later, Wambold gave Syracuse the lead when she tripled to score Emily Thompson for her second RBI of the night. Kelly Saco singled Wambold home to make it 3-1 after three innings.
Canisius rallied for four runs over the next two innings to take a 5-3 advantage, but a homer from Lisaira Daniels cut it to 5-4 an inning later and the Orange tied it again in the sixth by taking advantage of three walks — one of them to Wambold — and an error.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and runners on second and third, Kelly Saco ripped a single up the middle to provide Syracuse with a walk-off win.
Reliever Lindsay Taylor held the Golden Griffins in check for the final two innings to pick up the victory in the pitching circle.
Syracuse has rolled to nine consecutive wins to improve to 19-8, with its two freshmen, Wambold and Thomas, continuing to play a major role in the success of a team that is ranked 24th nationally in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top-25.
Wambold (photo at the right) is second on the team in batting with a .302 average, on-base percentage at .377 and slugging percentage at .679. She is fourth in RBIs with 13.
Thomas, a Canadian national team member as is Caira, has provided solid defense at third base, with four homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs, with a .352 on-base percentage
Wambold, Thomas and Syracuse will open Big East Conference play this weekend with a three-game set at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.
The Orange and the Red Storm meet Saturday in a doubleheader and play a single game Sunday. Games begin at noon both days.
Syracuse is defending back-to-back championships in the Big East. St. John’s (11-18) has won six of seven games after starting the season with a six-game losing streak.
(Photos courtesy of Syracuse Athletics)