The softball team returned to conference play over the weekend, dropping two games in a double header to Robert Morris University before rebounding to sweep Wagner University in a double header on Sunday.
The Hawks pushed their overall record to 19-12 on the season and 8-4 in conference after the weekend, solidifying their position as third in the NEC.
The weekend started with MU hosting preseason favorite Robert Morris University in a double header. The Hawks didn’t see much success on Saturday, only totaling two runs between the games, as they dropped both games by scores of 4-0 and 6-2.
“I want to see more consistency, not making the mental mistakes we’ve made in the past,” said head coach Louie Berndt. “It’s all about scoring runs, and that’s what we have to do to win ball games.”
Game one saw senior Lauren Sulick take the mound for MU. She tallied four strikeouts and allowed four runs in her complete game effort. The Hawks were not able to provide any run support for Sulick. RMU sophomore Nicole Sleith pitched a gem for the Pioneers, only giving up four hits to the Hawks and she also added four strikeouts.
RMU was able to get on the scoreboard early with a first inning soaring solo home run from sophomore Tess Apke. Sulick was then able to keep the Pioneer bats relatively quiet until the fourth inning when junior Chelsea Siar extended the lead with a two run deep ball for the Pioneers. The Pioneers then further secured their lead with the third home run of the day in the fifth inning when freshman Haileigh Stocks hit a solo shot lengthening the lead to 4-0. The Hawks bats were unable to produce any runs and the Pioneers captured game one.
Game two saw a lot of the same as game one for the Hawks. Freshman Cerissa Rivera pitched a complete game and notched eleven strikeouts on the day. Offensively, MU was able to get some spark when senior Kate Kuzma hit a homerun to tie the game at 1-1 in the third inning. The story of game two was the struggles MU faced in the field. On the day, the Hawks committed three errors, two of which occurred in a five run fifth inning for Robert Morris that made the score 6-1. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Hawks were able to capitalize on an error by the Pioneers which allowed sophomore Vanessa Cardoza to score. MU was unable to score again, giving RMU the sweep on the day.
“We’re leaving a lot of people on base right now,” said sophomore Kayleena Flores. “It’s good that we’re getting runners on, but we need to string the hits together and get those runs scored.”
On Sunday, the Hawks traveled to Staten Island, NY to take on Wagner University in another double header. MU found much more success than they did on Saturday as they took both games from the Seahawks by scores of 9-0 and 6-0.
Sulick pitched the opener for the Hawks and bounced back from her shaky start Saturday to deliver a complete game two-hit shutout against MU’s in conference rival. MU’s offense started fast and was consistent throughout. Senior Christine Scherr brought in two runs in the first inning with a double to give the Hawks the early lead. In the second inning the lead was extended by a wild pitch which allowed sophomore junior Shannon Fitzgerald to score. The third inning saw Fitzgerald impact the game again as she brought in two runs on a single. The Hawks then added four more runs which were highlighted by solo homeruns from Cardoza and Scherr. The strong offensive performance capped off a 9-0 victory and the end to a brief two game skid for the Hawks.
In the second game, the pitching remained stellar and the bats lent great support. Rivera pitched a complete game shut-out and only allowed four hits on the day. The bats weren’t nearly as hot as they were in game one to start game two. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that MU finally got onto the scoreboard when Fitzgerald hit a bases-loaded ground rule double to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, Derer scored on a fielder’s choice and Flores brought in a run on a single to push the lead to four by the end of the inning. Freshman Nikki Sandelier scored in both the sixth and seventh inning for MU to make it a 6-0 final and give the team the sweep on the day.
“The team’s mindset is totally on conference play, one game at a time,” said Berndt. “Everybody has a different role and has to do what they need to do.”
The Hawks will begin a busy week of softball when they return home to take on non-conference foe La Salle University on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. MU will then travel to Villanova to take on the Wildcats on Wednesday at noon. Finally, the team will face off with conference-leading Central Connecticut State University on Sunday at home and the first pitch it slated for noon.
PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography