- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 13 April 2016
- Written by CONNOR WHITE | SPORTS EDITOR
The MU softball team finished up a demanding week on the road on Sunday when they split with the Fairfield Stags after previously sweeping both Quinnipiac and Iona, putting them at the top of the MAAC with a 7-1 conference record.
“It was a grind,” MU head coach Shannon Salsburg said. “We have to be smart utilizing practice time, because on game day they’re always ready.”
MU beat the Stags in game one, 6-2, behind a five-run fifth inning after falling behind 2-0 after three innings. The fifth was led off with back-to-back singles by sophomore pitcher Amanda Riley and sophomore utility Katie Baron, respectively. After Riley scored due to a Fairfield error on senior catcher Jill Freese’s bunt, the Stags retired the next two batters. However, the Hawks would plate four more runs thanks to a junior outfielder Justene Reyes double, another Fairfield error and a freshman infielder Nicole Wieczorek single.
MU would tack on one more run in the sixth inning when senior infielder Rachel Shotzbarger scored on a senior third baseman Ashalynn Umiamaka double to left-center. Senior pitcher Sydney Underhill would earn the win for the Hawks, getting her 11th win on the season.
However, game two belonged to defending MAAC Champions Fairfield, as they shutout the Hawks in a 5-0 victory. The Stags got on the board in the third inning when senior outfielder Lauren Filicia singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single from freshman infielder Alisha Marshall. Scoring two more insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings would give Fairfield pitcher Lauren Falkanger the cushion she needed, as she kept the Hawks to no runs and earned the win over Riley.
Before facing Fairfield, MU took to New Haven the day before where they swept a doubleheader against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, winning 3-0 and 8-3, respectively. Riley shone again in this series after being named MAAC Pitcher of the Week last week, the sophomore pitcher threw 8.2 innings in game one where she struck out a career-high 13 batters, and added 2.2 innings in game two. All 11.1 innings were scoreless, and Riley has now hurled 27.0 consecutive scoreless innings covering six games since Mar. 30.
“She’s really learning how to pitch and not just throw,” Salsburg said of Riley. “She really trusts and believes in the pitches she’s throwing.”
Pitching dominated game one, both teams scoreless through eight innings. However, Freese would break the silence with an opposite-field home run in the ninth which was followed by a Wieczorek double and a Baron home run over the left field fence. The Bobcats would threaten in the bottom of the inning, but a pickoff by Freese and a two-pitch save by Underhill clinched the victory for the Hawks.
The Hawks came out of the gates hot in game two, scoring four runs in the first and four more in the third inning. After a Hill single to lead off the inning, the catcher moved to second on sophomore outfielder Chloe Howerth’s groundout and scored on a Shotzbarger single. A bases loaded walk by Wieczorek put the Hawks up by two, and sophomore catcher Brooke Redmonds’ two RBI single down the left field line capped off the inning with MU ahead 4-0.
In the third, the Hawks scored all four runs with two outs. Runs were attained on a Wieczorek home run, a Baron RBI single, and a Howerth two RBI double. QU chipped away for three runs [two earned] in Underhill’s 4.1 innings before Riley came in for the final 2.2 to close it out.
The road trip started in New Rochelle when the Hawks took two from the Iona Gales on Wednesday, Apr. 6, beating them 10-0, and 4-1. It was a dominating series for the Hawks, who scored 14 runs on 22 hits in the two games, while holding Iona to only one run.
Reyes led the Hawks with five hits and three RBI’s, while Riley, Wieczorek and senior utility Emma Hill all contributed with three hits of their own. Hill was 4-4 in stolen-base attempts to improve to 20-20 on the year, while also scoring three runs.
Baron chipped in with a pair of hits, while Howerth had a two-run triple and two runs scored. Redmond sparked the Hawks’ seventh-inning game two rally with a leadoff double.
Riley threw a complete game shutout in game one, scattering only three hits and two walks while adding six strikeouts. Underhill picked up where Riley left off in game two, allowing only one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings pitched.
“Today was a great team effort to get a sweep on the road in conference,” Salsburg said. “Up and down the line-up, everyone contributed.”
The Hawks take the field next against Manhattan on Sunday, Apr. 16 for a home doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.