The Hawks ended their final Northeast Conference regular season on Sunday by sweeping the home double-header against the Saint Francis University Red Flash, blanking them 6-0 and 7-0 respectively; going into the playoffs on a three-game win streak. Pitchers Lauren Sulick and Jordan Barnett pitched complete game shutouts earning them both their eleventh wins of the season.
While senior day took place during the double-header festivities honoring the six graduating seniors, Jordan Barnett, Tish Derer, Kate Kuzma, Christine Scherr, Lauren Sulick, and Kayla Weiser. “It was a great way to end a regular season, with two wins on Senior Day,” Head Coach Louie Berndt said. “I was very proud for all the seniors because they’ve contributed for the last four years and actually made the program move forward. I’m excited that everybody had a hand on both wins today.” That was not all of the celebrating MU had done that day.
The Hawks got things started in the bottom of the third in game one, where Kathleen Flores led off the inning with a bloop infield single to third base, followed by a single to right from Derer. After a walk to Alicia DeSanto and Katie Schmacher reaching base on a fielder’s choice to get the runner out at home, senior Scherr hit a two-run single to center to put the blue and white’s first two runs on the board. With runners on second and third, with two outs in the inning, Kuzma brought the runners home with a two-run double to left.
That wasn’t all for MU. Two innings later, with two on and two out, Shannon Fitzgerald drilled a line drive to left, adding on one run to their already four-run lead. The Hawks tried to add a few more runs later in the inning when a dropped ball by the Red Flash third baseman allowed the inning to continue with the bases loaded, however, Kayleena Flores couldn’t connect and struck out looking to end the inning.
The Hawks added some insurance runs in the sixth when pinch hitter Raelynn Galindo ripped a shot over the right fielder’s head rolling to the wall, allowing Derer to score easily from second base. With runners on second and third with two outs, Kuzma flew out to left center to end the inning.
MU finished game one with 11 hits with four players having two hits each. Kuzma and Scherr had two runs batted in a piece with Scherr and Derer scoring twice as well. Senior Lauren Sulick earned the shutout victory in game one, allowing five hits, none of them being extra bases, and striking out seven while walking only one. The win is Sulick’s eleventh on the season and 58 of her career, passing the schools all time wins mark earlier in the week with the win at Rutgers.
The Hawks kept things rolling in game two, where Jordan Barnett took the mound for MU.
MU took a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with DeSanto hitting a slow roller in front of the plate for a single, then advancing to second on the single to left by Schumacher. Both runners scored when the next batter, Vanessa Cardoza, hit a two-out line drive off of the right field wall.
Then in the home half of the fifth, DeSanto singled to left and was brought home by a triple hit by Cardoza to deep right center field. The very next batter, Scherr, then mirrored a triple to left, scoring Cardoza, to put the Hawks up by four.
With the victory only a few outs away, MU decided to keep the wheels in motion with Weiser leading off the sixth with a double to right center. Advancing to third when Flores hit a bunt single and eventually scored when Derer hit an RBI single to center. With two on and two out, Cardoza hit her second triple of the game sending in both runners.
Cardoza led the way for the Hawks offensively, going 4-4 with two triples and five RBI as four other Hawks had two hits apiece. Pitcher Jordan Barnett pitched her way to a shutout victory allowing just five hits, one walk, while striking out four. The win was Barnett’s eleventh on the year.
The squad pulled out 13 runs on 25 hits between both games as the winning pitchers pitched complete games striking out a combined 11 batters while giving up just 10 hits and two walks with no runs scored.
Prior to Sunday’s games, the Hawks split the road game doubleheader with the Blackbirds of LIU-Brooklyn losing game one 2-1, and bouncing back with a 8-2 victory in game two, both on the road.
The blue and white finished the season with a 15-5 NEC record and 30-14 overall currently sitting in a tie for second place in the conference. The Hawks’ next game will be in the Northeast Conference playoffs against a team to be determined in the double elimination playoffs hosted by the top seed, also yet to be announced.
“We’ll wait until next week to figure out what’s going on. There’s no sense trying to play it out because we don’t know. We’ll wait until Sunday night to figure out what’s going on,” Berdnt said.
PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography