COLCHESTER, Vt. - Senior Danielle Brown (Vergennes, Vt./Vergennes Union) spun her third shutout of the year in game one of a doubleheader on Tuesday before sophomore Aleksandra Apkarian (Butler, N.J./Butler) drove in the tie-breaking run during the sixth inning of the nightcap to help the Saint Michael's College softball team sweep Franklin Pierce University, 3-0 and 3-2, at Doc Jacobs Field.
The Purple Knights improved to 6-14 overall and 3-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference, playing their second-earliest home opener in the last five years, while the Ravens are 6-16 and 3-9. Saint Michael's, which had last played on March 31, has now won six straight from Franklin Pierce.
Game one featured a match-up between Brown and Raven first-year Cyrena Zemaitis, the top two hurlers in both the NE10 and the NCAA East Region in strikeouts per seven innings, with Brown entering the day at 9.55 and Zemaitis at 9.33. Brown was also seventh nationally and her Franklin Pierce counterpart 10th.
Brown finished with the victory, striking out 11 - one short of her career high - and walking no one while surrendering four hits, all singles. She ended with her third shutout of the season, the most by a Purple Knight since Meggan Roberge Dulude '07 tossed 11 in 2007. During her first contest at Doc Jacobs Field, junior transfer Hayley Craddock (Campbell River, British Columbia/Carihi Secondary School/Highline) went 2-for-2 with a run, a walk and a double, and senior Chandler Wilder (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) was also 2-for-2 with a run.
Seven Ravens reached base once apiece, while Zemaitis took the loss after carrying a shutout until two were down in the fifth inning. She allowed three earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
First-year Bre Eastlick was hit by the game's first pitch, and classmate Allison Shaw beat out a squibber for a single before both stood in scoring position with none out, but Brown struck out the side, beginning a run during which she set down 18 of 20 Ravens, including nine via strikes. Senior Jillian Ostrander was plunked to begin the fourth but was left at third with two down, and Zemaitis did not allow multiple base runners until the sixth.
During the home half of the sixth, the first two batters grounded out before Craddock doubled to center field, and Wilder followed with a single to left, leading to an outfield error that allowed Craddock to come home with the eventual winning run. Sophomore Torie Rathwell (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland) followed with an RBI single, and junior Fallon Tierney (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) did the same two batters later, making it 3-0.
The Ravens opened the seventh inning with consecutive hard-hit singles through the left side before the visitors loaded the bases with one out, but Brown struck out the final two batters looking to seal the victory.
As the visiting team in game two, the makeup of a contest scheduled to be played at Franklin Pierce, Tierney finished 2-for-4, Apkarian had a hit, a run and an RBI, and Craddock added a hit, RBI, walk and stolen base. Rathwell earned the win in relief, spinning five innings of two-hit, shutout ball. Brown took a no-decision after yielding two earned runs in two innings. She struck out two. Wilder dropped a sacrifice bunt in each end of the twinbill and now has 27 for her career, one shy of Catherine Bourque's '04 school record.
Senior Aubrey Bianco doubled while scoring and driving in a run for the Ravens, one of seven players with a single hit, while sophomore southpaw Amelia Mamone allowed only one earned run on eight hits in a complete-game loss. She fanned four and walked one.
Craddock and Tierney reached on a walk and single, respectively, to put two on with one out in the first before being left on, and Shaw singled and stole second in the home half but did not score. Saint Michael's batted 2-for-8 in the second inning, scoring twice while being aided by three errors. Craddock's fielder's choice grounder to short plated Brown with the initial run, and Apkarian came home on a two-out error. All three outs in the inning were via fielder's choices. Franklin Pierce knotted the game in the home half, with Bianco knocking an RBI double then scoring on Eastlick's two-out flare to shallow center field.
Only three runners reached in Rathwell's five innings of relief, with two coming consecutively, as seniors Cassidy Sorenson and Dominique Bisaccia singled with two down in the fifth before Rathwell fielded a grounder back to the circle. Saint Michael's went ahead in the sixth, as sophomore Katie Terban (Georgetown, Mass./Saint Mary's) singled with one down and moved 60 feet on a wild pitch, and Apkarian bounced a single over first base to plate junior pinch runner Anna Meusel (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional). The Purple Knights left the bags loaded in the seventh, but Rathwell set the Ravens down 1-2-3 in the bottom half, fielding a grounder for the last out.
The Purple Knights are slated to host No. 23 Southern New Hampshire University on Thursday for a 3 p.m. doubleheader. The Penmen were 23rd in last week's National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) national poll.