Cantore homers in 8-7 win, Purple Knights earn first victory at Merrimack in five years

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College softball team earned an 8-7 win over Merrimack College on Tuesday during the front half of a doubleheader before leading game two but eventually falling, 9-1, in five innings in Northeast-10 Conference play at Warrior Diamond. Now 3-7 overall and 1-1 in the league, the Purple Knights picked up a victory at Merrimack for the first time since 2007 while aiming for their first twinbill sweep ever against the Warriors. The hosts improved to 3-5 and 1-1 while also opening their NE-10 slate.

Saint Michael's nabbed an 8-1 lead in the opening contest before holding off Merrimack. Junior Brittany Cantore (Saint Johnsbury, Vt./Saint Johnsbury Academy) launched her first career home run while going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while classmate Stephanie Frank (Essex, Vt./Essex) and freshman Sarah Murray (Wallingford, Conn./Sheehan) also each drove in two. Frank doubled while earning the victory, fanning four in a complete-game effort, while sophomore Greer Lemnah (Lyndon Center, Vt./Lyndon Institute) scored twice.

Junior Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass./Peabody) hit a grand slam for the Warriors, while classmate Curran Hubbard (Laconia, N.H./Laconia) had two hits. Junior Alie Thomas (Bedford, N.H./Trinity) allowed two earned runs in three innings while taking the loss.

Cantore's second-inning homer broke a scoreless tie, and Frank's two-run double in the following frame snapped a 1-1 draw and gave the Purple Knights the final lead. Cantore added an RBI single to cap the four-run inning. Murray's two-out, two-run single made it 8-1 in the fourth before the hosts got one run back in the home half, and Palmieri's two-out grand slam cut her team's deficit to 8-6 in the sixth. The Warriors put runners at second and third to begin the seventh, and a sacrifice fly produced a one-run margin with two down, but Frank induced a game-ending groundout with the tying run at third.

In game two, Frank's RBI single plated sophomore Amanda Brigante (Colchester, Vt./Colchester) in the top of the first inning before Merrimack posted four-run showings in the first and second frames, scoring all eight runs with two out. Sophomore Bethany Falls (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) doubled and walked, while Frank and Lemnah both added a single while walking. Frank took the loss before sophomore Laura McCormack (Natick, Mass./Natick) struck out four in relief.

Junior Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass./Shawsheen Valley Tech) was 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBIs for Merrimack while earning the win in relief, Hubbard was 2-for-2 with two runs, and freshman Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional) homered, driving in two and scoring twice.

After Frank's RBI knock gave the Purple Knights a 1-0 edge, the Warriors tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the first before tacking on three more runs. Saint Michael's challenged to cut its deficit in the second, loading the bases with one out, but was held scoreless, and the hosts scored four times in the home portion after the first two batters had been retired. Gibbs' two-run homer was the big hit. The first three Purple Knights reached in the third before being stranded, and a single with one out in the bottom of the fifth drove in the clinching run for Merrimack.

Saint Michael's is slated to open its home schedule on Saturday against Stonehill College for a 12 p.m. doubleheader. The March 24 home opener would be the earliest in program history, besting the prior earliest contest at Doc Jacobs Field by a full week.