The softball team is starting to build momentum as they notched wins in all four games they played this week at home in double headers against La Salle University and conference foe Central Connecticut State University.
“I think they like their own facilities,” said Head Coach Louie Berndt. “They’re accustom to the routine, but once that first pitch is thrown and the game starts it’s all about playing the game.”
MU took the field for the first time of the week on Tuesday at home against the La Salle Explorers and their bats set the tone, scoring seven runs in the first game to win 7-0.
Sophomore Vanessa Cardoza went 2-3 on the day, including a team high two RBI.
Senior Lauren Sulick, this week’s NEC Pitcher of the Week, threw an absolute gem, commanding the strike zone throughout the contest leading to a complete game seven strikeout outing.
The Hawks got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when junior Shannon Fitzgerald was able to score on a passed ball. The offense picked back up in the fifth inning for MU when senior Tish Derer brought in freshman Nikki Sandelier on a fielder’s choice reach with the bases loaded. With the bases still loaded, junior Alicia Desanto was able to draw a walk to extend the lead to three.
Another fielder’s choice brought the lead to four for the Hawks before Cardoza blasted a two-out, two-run triple to right-center giving the Hawks a six run lead. Sophomore Kayleena Flores ended the scoring for the day when she brought in Cardoza with a double. Sulick closed the game just as strong as she started it, making it a 7-0 victory for the Hawks.
In the second game of the day, the Hawks held off a late surge by the Explorers to hold on and win 4-3 to secure the sweep. Freshman Cerissa Rivera picked up the win, totaling six strikeouts. Sulick came in late in the seventh to secure the victory and pick up the save.
Just like game one, MU struck first in the bottom of the third inning when Cardoza brought in two runs on a single up the middle. The Hawks were able to capitalize on an Explorer mistake in the fourth as an error on a hit by Desanto allowed Fitzgerald to score. Before the end of the inning, MU was able to add one more run on a fielder’s choice that allowed senior Kayla Weiser to score.
With a four run lead and Rivera dominating on the mound, it seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing for the Hawks to add another victory until the seventh inning. La Salle’s Casey Lester was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning, which was followed by a double by Liz Reed put runners in scoring position for the Explorers. Lester was brought in by a Megan Hodgson single, to put the Explorers on the board. Reed was able to score on an error committed by the Hawks. La Salle then came within one run after a Tristan Musho single brought the score to 4-3.
With one out left, Coach Louie Berndt decided to go to her senior, Sulick, to close the game out. Sulick was able to successfully slow the run made by the Explorers and give the Hawks the victory.
The Hawks were scheduled to play Villanova University Saturday in a non-conference affair, but due to inclement weather conditions, the double header was cancelled.
On Sunday, the Hawks played a huge series with preseason NEC favorite Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. Coming into the weekend, the Blue Devils were 10-1 in conference play and first in the conference, while the Hawks were 8-4 and third in the conference. MU stepped up to the challenge, taking both games in the double header by scores of 1-0 and 5-2.
Pitching for both teams was outstanding in the first game, as both teams failed to score a run before the Hawks got on the scoreboard in the tenth inning. Sulick pitched the complete extra-inning affair for the Hawks and only gave up three hits throughout the whole ten innings. Central Connecticut State’s Lauren Messina pitched 9.1 innings and finished with twelve strikeouts on the day. It took a tenth inning single by junior Kaitie Schumacher to score Derer and give the Hawks the walk-off win in a highly emotional game.
In game two, Messina pitched again for Central Connecticut and didn’t find as much success as she did in the first game of the day. Rivera pitched five innings and picked up the win for the Hawks and senior Jordan Barnett picked up the two-inning save.
Schumacher contributed another crucial hit for MU, this time to start the game as she brought in Derer to give the Hawks a first inning 1-0 lead. The scoring wasn’t over in the first though, as a Weiser single brought Desanto in and then a double from senior Christine Scherr extended the lead to 3-0 before the inning ended.
The Blue Devils answered quickly with a triple by Evie Rentzel in the second inning and an error by Derer allowed Rentzel to score their first run of the double header. Then, in the third inning a home run by Kat Malcolm cut the lead to one run for MU.
Scoring halted until the sixth inning when Derer drew a bases loaded walk and freshman Raelynn Galindo brought in fellow freshman Sandelier on a ground out to make the lead three. Barnett was able to shut down Blue Devil batters in the final two innings to give the Hawks a huge conference sweep.
The Hawks are off until Wednesday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. when they’ll take on Temple University in a double header at home. Conference play will pick back up for the Hawks when they travel to take on Mount St. Mary’s in a double header next Saturday, April 20.