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Strong Pitching, Long Ball Key In GNAC Sweep Over Rivier

Photo taken by Steve McLaughlin - April 4, 2019
Photo taken by Steve McLaughlin - April 4, 2019

NASHUA, N.H.  The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) softball team handled Rivier University (RIV) Friday evening, sweeping the Raiders in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader at Raider Diamond.

Senior pitcher and captain Alessandra Milardo (Plantsville, Conn.) set a new career-high with 16 strikeouts in game one, the most by a Blue Jays pitcher in over a decade. USJ steamrolled their way to an 8-0 win. There was much of the same in game two, as junior third baseman Julia Annecchiarico (Ludlow, Mass.) hit two homers to propel Saint Joseph to an 8-6 win despite a late Raiders rally. Rivier struggled defensively in this one, amassing 12 errors over two games, giving the Blue Jays ample opportunities.

COACH QUOTE [Jim McKinnon]
"We had some timely hits and took advantage of their miscues in the field to score some runs. [Alessandra Milardo] was terrific pitching and hitting both games. Natalie [Amato] pitched well. The homers by Julia [Annecchiarico] in game two were key. Our defense will continue to improve."
 
GAME ONE

Score: Saint Joseph 8, Rivier 0
Records: USJ (10-5, 9-4 GNAC), Rivier (5-2, 3-2 GNAC)
Location: Raider Diamond | Nashua, N.H.

KEY MOMENTS

  • Behind sheer dominance in the circle by Milardo, the Blue Jays stayed aggressive in the batter's box, scoring five runs in the fourth inning. Junior right fielder Ashlee White (Bristol, Conn.) had a big game at the plate, going 3-for-4 in game one with three RBI, including a two-RBI double to right center to cap off the monster fourth frame. 5-0 USJ after four.
  • White, along with junior left fielder Frankie Ferrante (Southington, Conn.) drove in runs in the sixth and seventh innings respectively to make it 8-0 in favor of the visitors.
  • Milardo returned to the circle to complete the contest, fanning the side in fashion to finish off a career game.

IN THE CIRCLE

  • USJ – Milardo threw the gem of gems in game one, allowing two hits over seven innings, striking out 16, a career-best, and a program-best in more than 10 seasons. She improved to 3-3 on the season. Milardo has allowed just three hits in her last 14 innings of work, all three of them singles.
  • RIV – Senior Kellie Kennedy (Hudson, N.H.) was dealt the loss (1-1), allowing eight runs (4 ER) on eight hits in a complete game.

GAME TWO

Score: Saint Joseph 8, Rivier 6
Records: USJ (11-5, 10-4 GNAC), Rivier (5-3, 3-3 GNAC)
Location: Raider Diamond | Nashua, N.H.

KEY MOMENTS

  • Annecchiarico earned the highlight of the day with two long-balls, the first being a three-run bomb to give the Blue Jays an early 3-0 advantage. Two trips later, same result, this one a two-run homer, scoring senior pinch-runner Megan Burke (Parkland, Fla.). It was the first two home runs of her career, and the Blue Jays held a commanding 8-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
  • After another strong starting pitching performance from junior Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.), Annecchiarico came in for relief. The Raiders, desperate to avoid the mercy rule, found a way to bring two runs home on an RBI single and double steal. Junior second baseman Nicole Capra (Windham, N.H.) slapped the single to center and stole second. The high throw to second base allowed senior center fielder Kasey Smith (Hopkinton, N.H.) to steal home. 8-2 USJ after five.
  • The Raiders rode the momentum into the final inning, scoring four more runs to keep the pressure on the visitors. The third homer of the afternoon (and the first by Rivier) came off the bat of junior left fielder Emma Rousseau (Litchfield, N.H.), and quickly turned game two upside down. With still nobody out and now a two-run game, Blue Jays skipper Jim McKinnon turned to Milardo to close it out. She came in and struck out two of the first three batters she faced, upping her two-game total to 18 strikeouts on the day, and enough to secure an 8-6 game two win.

IN THE CIRCLE

USJ – Amato was stout in the circle with just two hits allowed over four innings, and remaining unbeaten (7-0). Milardo picked up her second save of the season in relief.

RIV  Junior Sydney Greeno (Shirley, Mass.) took the loss in three innings of work (2-2), allowing eight runs (5 ER) on eight hits. Sophomore Nicole Verrette (Haverhill, Mass.) was strong in relief, allowing only one hit over four innings, which gave RU a shot in the end.

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will conclude their regular season with a non-conference road doubleheader against Mitchell College on Sunday, May 2. First pitch of game one is set for 1:00 p.m., with game two to follow at 3:00 p.m.

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