NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team battled back from a heart-breaking extra-inning defeat with two home runs, good enough to split a doubleheader with Sarah Lawrence College (SLC) Wednesday afternoon, at the CCSU Softball Field, on the campus of Central Connecticut State University.
The Blue Jays (8-8) have won four of their last five, while the Gryphons (5-8) have dropped five of their last six.
In game one, the Blue Jays scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to force the game into extra innings but ultimately fell down the stretch 6-3 in eight innings.
Sophomore center fielder Tess Carrier (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) led the way offensively, finishing 2-for-4 with a double, a single, a run, and two RBI. Sophomore left fielder Alessandra Milardo (Plantsville, Conn.) hit a two-out, two-RBI double to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman first baseman Frankie Ferrante (Southington, Conn.) continued her hot streak at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and two singles.
Freshman pitcher Bailey Nguyen (Portland, Ore.) stayed dialed in throughout, pitching the full eight innings, striking out nine with three earned runs. Nguyen picked up her second win of the season (2-2). Freshman pitcher Julia Annecchiarico (Ludlow, Mass.) allowed three runs on four hits, striking out five. Junior pitcher Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) allowed three runs in the eighth and was dealt the loss (3-2).
The Blue Jays were unable to get things going offensively throughout, as Nguyen maintained a good rhythm, even when giving up a few hits. In the bottom of the seventh, with two away, USJ's big bats got to work. Senior shortstop Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) singled to right field with two runners on, scoring one. A passionate Russo called upon her teammates to keep the momentum going. Milardo was next up. Down to her last strike, the sophomore drilled a double hard to left center, clearing the bases on her way to second. The game was tied, 3-3, and it was on to extra innings.
In extra innings, the last player to bat from the previous inning automatically starts on second base, promoting quicker scoring in extra-inning situations. Carrier would rise to the occasion, doubling to left field with two runners on, clearing the bases. All that work to tie it up and the Gryphons came right back and snatched the lead. This time, they would hold it for good, adding a sixth run to make it 6-3, as Nguyen retired the side in order to close it out.
In game two, the Blue Jays would not let that tough loss break their confidence, as they put up 11 runs in five innings to win under the mercy rule, 11-3.
The big bats wasted no time in this one, as junior designated player McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.) and sophomore right fielder Megan Burke (Parkland, Fla.) both went yard to deep left center field, breaking the game wide open. Russo also kept things going in the second game, going a perfect 4-for-4 with a game-clinching double, three singles and an RBI. Freshman shortstop Hannah Akin (Monroe, Wash.) drove in all three runs for SLC, going 2-for-3 with a double.
Freshman pitcher Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) impressed once again, getting her team-best fourth win of the year (4-1), allowing three earned in five innings. She also struck out three. Sophomore pitcher Delaney Parker (Milford, N.H.) took the loss, allowing seven earned runs in two and a third.
USJ scored 8 runs in the first three innings, capped off by a two-run blast from Driscoll, and a three-run shot from Burke to make it 8-0. Trying desperately to avoid the mercy rule, the Gryphons went to work offensively, as Akin added a bases-clearing double in the fourth to get SLC on the board, 8-3. In the bottom of the fifth, USJ looked to finish it off, as a two-out double slapped into right-center by Russo scored Sharon, plating the 11th run of the game, and calling it after five innings.
USJ will hit the road for a doubleheader Sunday, March 31, at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. against Emmanuel (MA). Sarah Lawrence plays a doubleheader Thursday, March 28, at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. at Purchase (NY).