Softball Splits Conference Twinbill with Saint Michael’s in Home Opener

NORTH ANDOVER, MA- The Merrimack softball team traded wins with Saint Michael's in the first home doubleheader of the 2012 campaign Tuesday afternoon. The Warriors were edged in game one 8-7 before bouncing back to claim game two 9-1 in five innings. Merrimack progresses to 3-5 on the season and 1-1 in the Northeast-10. The Purple Knights move to 3-7 overall and 1-1 in league play.

Curran Hubbard (Laconia, NH) led Merrimack with four hits, three runs and one RBI on the day. Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, MA) drove in four RBIs on a pair of base knocks while Ashley Perry (Winchendon, MA) plated three on two hits in the two-game set. Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, MA) and Nicole LoPilato (Medford, MA) each collected three base hits in the doubleheader.

"Our team continues to make tremendous strides and improvements with each game," said head coach Jill Karwoski. "Despite coming out a little flat offensively at first, we made the needed adjustments to put together a collective team effort for the win in the second game."

In game one, Saint Michael's claimed an early 1-0 lead on a home run to left by Brittany Cantore.

Hubbard led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the left field line that landed on the chalk. After a sacrifice bunt by Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, MA), Hubbard eluded the tag at home on a fielder's choice to knot the score at 1-1.

A four-run third frame gave the Purple Knights a 5-1 advantage. The visitors pushed across three runs on two hits in the fourth to extend their lead to 8-1.

Merrimack got a run back in the home half of the fourth to cut the deficit to six, 8-2. Ashley Perry raked a triple to right center to score Keaira Perry from first.

The Warriors drew to within two runs on a grand slam by Palmieri. Three straight singles loaded the bases for Palmieri with two outs in the sixth inning. The junior blasted the 1-2 delivery over the fence in left center for her first homer of the year.

Monique Gosselin (Lawrence, MA) led off the seventh frame with a single into left followed by Hubbard with a single to advance Gosselin to third. Merrimack threatened with two runners in scoring position as Hubbard swiped second.

The Warriors made it a one-run margin in the bottom of the seventh as a sacrifice fly from Keaira Perry scored Gosselin from third and pushed Hubbard to third, representing the tying run.

Alie Thomas (Bedford, NH) tossed three innings and Deardorff went four innings in relief and fanned three.

In the nightcap, Saint Michael's struck first with one run in the top of the first inning. Stephanie Frank hit an RBI single to left to score Greer Lemnah from third to give the visiting side a 1-0 edge.

The hosts seized a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Palmieri led off the frame with a double and Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, MA) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move her to third. Gosselin fouled out to the first baseman and Palmieri scampered home as the catcher vacated the plate.

Hubbard continued the inning with a double followed by a double by Deardorff to score Hubbard. Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, MA) drew a two-out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch which allowed Deardorff to cross the plate. Gibbs came around to score on a double off the centerfield fence by Ashley Perry.

The Purple Knights threatened in the top of the second with the bases full and one out. Deardorff retired the side with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning.

In the home half of the second frame, Gosselin raked a two-out double and Hubbard followed with a single to score the senior. Deardorff plated Hubbard with a double off the fence in left center. Gibbs cleared the bases with her first collegiate home run, a two-run blast to right center to give Merrimack an 8-1 advantage.

Saint Michael's loaded the bags with no outs but Deardorff kept the visitors at bay with a pop-out and a pair of strikeouts to escape the third inning unscathed.

Merrimack finished off the game with an RBI single to right by Allison Berthiaume (Berkley, MA) with the bases loaded to give the home team an eight-run gap in the bottom of the fifth.

Alex Gallant started the game in the pitcher's circle and went 1.1 innings. Deardorff worked 2.2 innings of relief and struck out four batters. Valerie Bauer (Salem, MA) pitched the fifth frame and allowed just one hit.

The Warriors will kick off a stretch of eight games in four days March 22 at Felician.