Purple Knights open season with pair of setbacks, including nine-inning loss

CLERMONT, Fla. - The Saint Michael's College softball team opened its season with a pair of setbacks on Monday at the National Training Center Spring Games, falling in five innings to West Chester (Pa.) University, 8-0, before coming up short of the University of Bridgeport, 5-3, in nine innings. Now 0-2, the Purple Knights were beginning a scheduled 10-game Spring Break trip after their slated contests with Bridgeport and Kutztown (Pa.) University were postponed due to weather yesterday. West Chester is now 10-6, while Bridgeport is 3-1.

Four Purple Knights had one hit apiece in the opener, including freshman Sarah Murray (Wallingford, Conn./Sheehan) picking up the first of her career. Sophomore Laura McCormack (Natick, Mass./Natick) yielded four earned runs over 4.2 innings, fanning a pair while picking up the loss.

West Chester scored four runs apiece in the third and fifth innings. Junior Jessica Russ (Martinsburg, W.Va./Martinsburg) went 3-for-3, senior Nicole Cruts (Washingon, N.J./Warren Hills) was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and sophomore Kim Murl (Hamilton, N.J./Nottingham) tossed a four-hit shutout, walking one and striking out one.

Saint Michael's loaded the bases in the third, receiving consecutive singles with one down from sophomores Grace Bonaiuto (Beverly, Mass./Austin Preparatory School), Bethany Falls (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) and Brittany Regis (Monroe, N.H./Saint Johnsbury Academy) before coming up empty, and Cruts' two-run single in the home half keyed a four-run frame. The Golden Rams had five hits in the frame. In the fifth, West Chester plated four runs - all unearned - with sophomore Charlotte Conaway's (Radnor, Pa./Radnor) two-run single ending the game.

Junior Stephanie Frank (Essex, Vt./Essex) went the route in game two, not allowing her first hit until there were two out in the fifth inning. She allowed two earned runs in nine innings while also batting 3-for-4 with a double. Falls drove in two runs.

Junior Stephanie Pearce (Surrey, England/Vernon College) had three hits for Bridgeport, while senior Emma Wojcik (Warsaw, Poland/Academy of Physical Education) went 2-for-3. Freshman Jessica Greisinger (Brewster, N.Y./Brewster) scored two runs, and sophomore Tiffany Irrera (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Kearney) earned the win, allowing two earned runs with three strikeouts in nine innings.

Falls' squeeze scored Frank to make it 1-0 in the fourth, but the visiting Purple Knights scored twice on three hits and an error in the sixth before Falls plated another run and tied the game at two in the home half. Wojcik's two-out RBI single in the eighth gave Bridgeport the extra-inning lead before Saint Michael's loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom portion but needed Murray's run-scoring base knock with two down to tie the game. In the ninth, Griesinger tripled home the eventual winning run with one down before scoring on a sacrifice fly to provide an insurance run.

Saint Michael's opposes Saint Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.) College in a doubleheader tomorrow that begins at 9 a.m.