Softball drops three narrow affairs during first tripleheader in nine years

COLCHESTER, Vt. - After five hours and four minutes of game time, the Saint Michael's College softball team finished off its first tripleheader in nine years on Sunday with a trio of narrow setbacks to Merrimack College, 2-0, 4-3 and 10-6, during Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division play at Doc Jacobs Field. The Purple Knights are 0-27 overall and 0-9 in the division, while the Warriors improved to 13-14 and 6-2.

In what was originally scheduled as a pair of home twinbills for the Purple and Gold this weekend, inclement weather on Friday and Saturday necessitated condensing the trio of division games into one day's worth of action. Saint Michael's last played three games in one day on March 18, 2004, in Florida, and had only played three league contests in the same day once: On May 1, 2001, the Purple Knights played two at Saint Anselm College and a single game at Merrimack.

During the opening contest, senior Stephanie Frank (Essex, Vt./Essex) singled and stole a base while yielding two runs over seven innings but taking the loss. She fanned three. Junior Greer Lemnah (Lyndon Center, Vt./Lyndon Institute) singled and walked.

Senior Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass./Shawsheen Valley Tech) spun a two-hit shutout for the visitors, making the first of three appearances on the day. She struck out 10 and walked one. Senior Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass./Peabody) was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and sophomore Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional) doubled twice. Junior Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, Mass./Newton North) went 2-for-3 and scored both runs.

Lemnah led off the first with a walk before eventually being erased on the base paths, and Frank singled and stole second but was stranded. From there, Lemnah's two-out bunt single in the third was the only time a Purple Knight reached base, and Palmieri singled home Fugazzotto in both the third and fifth innings.

Game two saw sophomore Sarah Murray (Wallingford, Conn./Sheehan) finish 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run for the hosts, while Frank was 1-for-2 with a run and a walk. First-year Jessica Niles (Chaumont, N.Y./General Brown) allowed three earned runs on just three hits during a complete game, striking out a season-high eight and walking only two.

Gibbs provided much of the offense for Merrimack, hitting a pair of home runs while driving in three. First-year Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt./Essex) yielded one earned run in 6.2 innings, fanning five, before Deardorff retired her only batter for the save.

Murray's two-run single gave Saint Michael's a 2-0 lead in the opening frame before a two-out error allowed one Warrior to score in the third. Gibbs' leadoff home run tied the game the next inning, and her two-run drive made it 4-2 in the sixth. Down to their last ups, the Purple Knights knocked three singles in the seventh, with a double play helping Merrimack limit the rally. First-year Jenna Maksian's (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) pinch-hit RBI single brought the hosts within a run before Deardorff closed the door.

Junior Bethany Falls (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) was 2-for-2 with three runs, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a double for Saint Michael's in the finale, while Frank finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double. First-year Danielle DelGreco (Lexington, Mass./Lexington) added two hits, and Niles took the loss after allowing two earned runs on two hits in 2.2 innings while starting her second straight contest.

Junior Kelsey Francher (Weare, N.H./John Stark Regional) went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a home run for Merrimack, while classmate Nicole LoPilato (Medford, Mass./Medford) was 2-for-3 with two runs and a homer of her own. Junior Ashley Perry (Winchendon, Mass./Murdock) was 2-for-4 with two runs, and sophomore Valerie Bauer (Salem, N.H./Salem) earned the win in relief, allowing two runs in three innings. Deardorff worked a five-out save, fanning three.

After the teams traded first-inning runs, with Murray's two-out RBI single tying the game, LoPilato led off the third with a home run before Francher knocked a three-run shot with two down. Saint Michael's countered with two runs in the home half, as Falls scored on an error before Maksian's RBI knock made it 5-3. However, Palmieri's two-out, two-run triple keyed a three-run fourth. With her team down 8-4 in the sixth, Frank made a home run-saving catch while falling over the fence in center field before ripping a two-run double in the bottom portion of the frame, making the score 8-6. Merrimack scored twice more in the seventh before Deardorff completed her second save of the afternoon.

The Purple Knights head to Franklin Pierce University for a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Tuesday.