Softball swaps shutouts with Bentley, remains in postseason contention

Softball swaps shutouts with Bentley, remains in postseason contention

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College softball team swapped shutouts with Bentley University on Friday, winning the front end of a doubleheader 1-0 before dropping a 4-0 decision in the nightcap on Doc Jacobs Field. The Purple Knights remain in postseason contention with one game remaining, standing 11-20 overall and 10-11 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Falcons are 11-22 and 6-15.

At 9-10 in the NE10 Northeast Division, Saint Michael's trails fourth-place Southern New Hampshire University, which is 10-7, by two full games. In order for the Purple Knights to qualify for their first postseason since 2005, they need to beat Bentley when they square off on Saturday at 12 p.m. for Senior Day, and the Penmen need to lose against Assumption College on Saturday and be swept in a doubleheader by Bentley on Sunday. Saint Michael's holds the tie-breaker with Southern New Hampshire, having won the season series, 2-1. The top four teams in each division advance to the NE10 Championship.

In the opener, junior Danielle Brown (Vergennes, Vt./Vergennes Union) delivered a four-hit shutout, striking out two with no walks, and first-year Torie Rathwell (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland) scored the only run on a fourth-inning passed ball. Brown and Rathwell walked, while seniors Danielle Barbato (Hillsdale, N.Y./Taconic Hills) and Christina Brazeau (Warwick, R.I./Saint Mary Academy-Bay View) picked up hits. The Purple Knights downed the Falcons for the first time since 2013, and can still win their first series since then with a win tomorrow.

Graduate student Hannah King was the hard-luck loser, yielding one unearned run on two hits. She struck out two and walked two. First-year Juliana Romeo finished 2-for-3.

Romeo singled before junior Catie Noons was hit by a pitch with two down in the second, but Brown snared a sinking line drive back to the circle to escape the jam. In the home half, Barbato led off with a single to center before moving to third thanks to a sac bunt and a groundout, but the final batter struck out. In the fourth, Rathwell led off with a walk, advanced on Barbato's sac and a groundout, and scored on a two-out passed ball, reading a low pitch the catcher was unable to cleanly receive that only made it 10 feet away from home plate.

Shortstop Barbato made a diving catch of a sinking blooper deep in the hole to end the fifth, and Brown pitched around a leadoff single in the sixth. In the seventh, Romeo reached on a leadoff error before junior Stephanie McQuaid picked up a two-out single, but first-year third baseman Aleksandra Apkarian (Butler, N.J./Butler) followed by fielding a grounder and stepping on the bag for the final out.

In game two, Brazeau, Brown and sophomore Fallon Tierney (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) all had hits, and Rathwell yielded just one run in four innings of relief but took the loss. During two stints in the circle, Brown allowed the other three runs, two of which were earned, in three frames.

Noons was 2-for-3 with a run and a triple, while Romeo slugged a two-run triple. Senior Kelsey Smith spun a three-hit shutout, striking out five and walking one.

Tierney led off the home half of the first with a single and stole second with two down, but that proved to be the only Saint Michael's hit until the sixth inning. However, one runner reached in every inning in between, thanks to two hit batsmen, an error and a walk, as Purple Knights were left at second base to end the second and fifth innings.

Bentley put two on but didn't score in the second, and Barbato dove up the middle to snag a grounder before retiring the second batter in the third as part of seven straight Falcons Rathwell set down in relief. Noons led off the fifth with a triple and, on a safety squeeze, tried coming home after the batter was retired at first base. However, Noons stopped short of being tagged out on the return throw home and made it back safely to third base after an errant throw. First-year Gabby Casalino followed with a pinch-hit, ground-ball single back up the box that tipped Rathwell's glove. The Purple Knights averted further damage when second baseman Brazeau cut down a runner at the plate.

The visitors used two errors and junior Jordan Ballantyne's two-out RBI single to make it 2-0 in the sixth, but the Purple Knights had runners at second and third with two down after Brazeau's leadoff single was followed by senior Caroline Staples (Stoughton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) reaching on an error and stealing second. However, the final hitter grounded out. After two quick outs in the seventh, Romeo delivered a two-run triple to pad her team's lead. Brown led off the home half with a single, but a double play and strikeout ended the game.