Softball Sweeps GNAC Opener Over Saint Joe’s Maine

Softball Sweeps GNAC Opener Over Saint Joe’s Maine

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph softball team swept a doubleheader over the Saint Joseph's College of Maine Monks, including a 6-5, extra-inning, walk-off victory in the second game, to open up Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play on Sunday afternoon at Celentano Field at Albertus Magnus College. With the victories, the Blue Jays have now won three-straight and improve to 6-5 overall on the season and start 2-0 in the GNAC, while the Monks slip to 3-9 on the season and 0-2 in league play.

Game 1 - USJ 4, SJC 0

Freshman Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout and finished 2-for-4 with three RBI at the plate to power the Blue Jays to a 4-0 victory over SJC in the first game on Sunday.

Sharon got the Blue Jays on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the third inning. A leadoff walk by sophomore Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) followed by a single from junior Sarah Ercoli (East Granby, Conn.) set the table for Sharon who ensued with a RBI single up the middle to drive in Russo and give the Blue Jays an early 1-0 lead.

USJ kept up the momentum and pushed across three more runs in the bottom half of the next inning to increase its lead to 4-0. Russo drove in the first run with a RBI single up the middle to bring home freshman Taylor Marino (Middlefield, Conn.) who walked to start the inning. Sharon followed two batters later and delivered once again, breaking the game open with a 2-RBI single up the middle to account for the 4-0 final.

Sharon would face just one over the minimum over the final three frames of the game to secure the victory and improve her record to 4-2 on the season in the circle. Her complete game, two-hit shutout featured four strikeouts and she faced just 26 batters in total, five over the minimum.

Senior Kylie McFadden (Dover, N.H.) started the game for the Monks and was handed the loss to fall to 2-3 on the season after surrendering four runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out three over five innings of work.

Sharon and Ercoli each finished 2-for-4 at the dish to lead the way for the Blue Jays. Sharon drove in three RBI. Russo went 1-for-2 with a RBI, two runs scored and drew a pair of walks in the opener of the double dip.

Game 2 - USJ 6, SJC 5 (8 inn.)

Sophomore Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) drove in freshman Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete the sweep over the Monks in walk-off fashion, 6-5, in game two.

Ricci was placed on second base to start the eighth inning under the international tiebreaker rule and was moved over to third after a successful two-strike, sacrifice bunt by sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.). Russo followed with the game-winning sacrifice fly to right field as Ricci slid into home plate just ahead of the throw.

The Monks raced out to an early lead in the tail end of the doubleheader when they plated three runs in the top of the first inning, but the Blue Jays would respond and got one run back in the bottom half of the frame before taking the lead, 4-3, with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) provided the clutch hit for USJ in the third to propel them into the lead when she drove a pitch down the right field line for two-out, two-RBI double.

The Blue Jays would then extend their lead to 5-3 with what looked to be a huge insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning. USJ got the first three batters of the inning on to load the bases with no outs and then a RBI ground out by Russo made it 5-3. SJC's sophomore pitcher Kristal Smith (Pittston, Maine) was able minimize the damage though and escaped the inning without allowing any more runs.

Down to their final three outs, the Monks would push across two runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game 5-5. A single by freshman Kaylee Burns (Saco, Maine) drove in the first run and then a pinch-hit single by classmate Libby Pomerleau (Saco, Maine) knotted the score to setup the dramatic walk-off in extras by Russo.

Skoly, Sharon, Klimaszewski and Ricci all posted multi-hit games. Sharon finished 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored and Klimaszewski went 2-for-4 with a double and two-RBI.

Sharon recorded her second complete game victory of the day in the circle tossing eight innings and allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk, while striking out six. She now boasts a 5-2 record in the circle on the season.

The University of Saint Joseph softball team will return to the diamond next when they host Elms College with one game on Wednesday at CCSU. First pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m.