The College of Staten Island women’s softball took two huge steps towards a successful defense of their CUNYAC Championship this afternoon, winning two games on day one of the CUNYAC/Applebee’s Softball Championship as part of double-elimination play. CSI opened up with a 7-0 win over No. 4 John Jay College to advance to winner’s bracket play, and then scored a 4-2 winner over No. 3 Hunter College in the day’s final game. The two wins insured that the Dolphins will play for the CUNYAC Championship Final tomorrow at 12:30pm, against the winner of No. 2 Brooklyn College and No. 3 Hunter College, who will square off prior to that, at 10:30am.

In the opener, CSI hurler Jacqueline Cautela was terrific in the circle, pitching the shutout while yielding just two hits and fanning eight in the game against the Bloodhounds. The frosh didn’t need a lot of run support, but two runs in the second inning, starting with a Chyanne Gilliam double that played Christina Tufano, and then a Victoria Procopio single to score Gilliam, got the group started.

Against JJC tosser Sara McKenna, CSI plated another four runs in the third inning, putting them in great position the rest of the way. Three Bloodhound errors nursed the Dolphins along, paced by back-to-back singles from Brittany Smith and Stefanie Solari, who both scored. CSI added an insurance marker in the fourth when Cautela came home on a Gilliam groundout. John Jay never truly threatened, as Cautela allowed just three base runners all game long.

CSI out-hit JJC, 10-2, and boasted a clean sheet in the field. McKenna drew the loss, going the distance, allowing seven runs (three earned), and fanning one. Solari finished with three hits, going 3-4 with a run plated.

In the second game of the afternoon, No. 3 Hunter got the better of No. 2 Brooklyn College, 8-1. The Bulldogs then followed by defeating the Bloodhounds, 11-3, in the tourney’s first elimination contest. Next up was the marquee game between the Hawks and Dolphins.

Cautela took the ball again for CSI, and went toe-to-toe with HC pitcher Erika Colangelo is what looked like what would amount to a pitcher’s duel. The two hurlers whizzed through two scoreless innings before CSI had a big inning in the third. Alyssa Setteducato got things started with a soft single to left, and Cautela followed with a booming double to score Setteducato from first base. Smith followed with a bloop single to left, and she advanced to second on the play. Solari followed by grounding out back to Colangelo, whose only play was at first base, advancing Smith to third and scoring Cautela to make it 2-0. Later, with the bases jammed, Gilliam hit into a groundout, scoring Solari to make it 3-0.

After a scoreless fourth inning, it was time for a Hunter comeback in the fifth frame. Aleta Terrill started the inning with a double, and then Cautela allowed her first walk to Briana Lombardo. CSI then got two outs via a sac bunt and a groundout, but just when it looked like Cautela could be in the clear, leadoff hitter Taylor Crofts laced a long single to right-centerfield, scoring two runs to make it 3-2. Crofts would be stranded from there but the damage was done and CSI only had a modest, 3-2, edge.

CSI got an insurance tally in their turn of the fifth, thanks to a Hunter error. The Hawks tried to counter from there but Cautela shut the door together with exceptional CSI defense. In the sixth, Hunter’s Slavik gave her team a start with a sharp single to left field, but CSI’s Danielle Locke nailed Slavik trying to reach second base for a gem of a play, and in the seventh, CSI worked around a Lombardo single to escape with the win, 4-2.

CSI out-hit Hunter in the contest, 9-6. Setteducato finished 3-3 at the dish while Cautela scored two hits with an RBI and run scored. Cautela also took the win, pitching all seven frames, allowing the pair of earned runs on six hits, striking out six. Colangelo allowed four runs (three earned) in defeat, fanning four.

?Hunter will take on Brooklyn tomorrow at 10:30am. The losing team will be eliminated from the tournament, while the winner will meet CSI at 12:30pm for the CUNYAC Championship. CSI need only win one game to secure the title, their 16th overall, while the Hunter-Brooklyn winner would have to defeat CSI twice.