April 9, 2011

Softball Rebounds to Earn Split with Southern Connecticut

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.- The Merrimack softball team bounced back from a stunning 8-7 loss to earn a 6-3 victory and a split against Southern Connecticut Saturday afternoon. The Warriors move to 10-11 overall and 5-3 in the Northeast-10. The Owls run their record to 12-11 on the year and 5-5 in the league.

Kristen LeMay (Shrewsbury, Mass.) paced Merrimack with a 4-for-5 batting performance with two runs batted in and four runs scored. Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) also racked up four hits on the afternoon with four RBIs and three runs scored.

LeMay worked a leadoff walk to open game one. Palmieri gave Merrimack an early two-run lead with a four-bagger over the centerfield fence.

Alex Gallant (Salem, N.H.) extended the Warriors' advantage with a two-out single down the left field line to score Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, Texas) from second base and advance Jamie Millett (Hudson, Mass.) to third. Milllett came home as Gallant stole second to push the lead to 4-0.

With two runners on base in the top of the third inning, Robin Priest cut the Owls' deficit to one with a three-run homer to left center.

Millett added Merrimack's fifth run of the contest with her second long ball of the year in the third. A pair of RBI doubles in the fourth frame by Palmieri and Kara Melillo (North Andover, Mass.) lifted Merrimack's lead to 7-3.

After plating their fourth run of the game in the sixth, Southern Connecticut loaded the bases in the top half of the seventh inning down 7-4. Alyssa Pagano blasted a one-out grand slam to grant the visitors their first lead of the day, 8-7.

The Warriors had runners at second and third twice in the bottom of the seventh but were unable to push a run across the plate.

Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.) tossed 4.2 innings for Merrimack with two strikeouts and was tagged with the loss.

Southern Connecticut pounced on a 2-0 lead early in game two as Priest cracked her second home run of the day in the first inning.

The Warriors filled the bases in the opening frame and got a run back as Millett plated LeMay with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

The Owls regained a two-run edge on a homer from Jillian Thibault to put the visitors ahead 3-1 in the second inning.

Leading off the second inning, Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, Mass.) doubled to right center in her first plate appearance of the day. After Perry advanced to third on a wild pitch, LeMay drove her in with a single through the left side of the infield to cut the deficit to one, 3-2.

Perry knotted the game at 3-3 in the fourth inning with her team-leading third round-tripper of the season.  Merrimack kept the pressure on in the frame as Gallant followed with a single then stole second.  LeMay drove in Gallant from third with a bunt single to give the Warriors a 4-3 lead.

Palmieri and Melillo each registered RBI singles to close out the scoring in the fourth frame as Merrimack enjoyed a 6-3 advantage heading into the fifth inning.

Gallant hurled 4.2 relief innings in game two, blanking Southern Connecticut to earn her third win of the year. Gallant fanned a pair of Owl batters while allowing just two hits.

"I was very proud of the way that the team responded from losing the heartbreaker in game one," said head coach Elaine Schwager. "They played with an impressive amount of determination and intensity in game two."

Up next, the Warriors will host New Haven April 10 at Warrior Diamond to close out the weekend.