NORTH ANDOVER, MA- The Merrimack softball team suffered a 9-6 setback to UMass Lowell Thursday afternoon in game one of a scheduled doubleheader. Game two of the twinbill was suspended in the middle of the fourth inning due to darkness with the two squads knotted in a scoreless tie. The Warriors sink to 8-9 on the year and 2-3 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The River Hawks rise to 16-7 overall and 6-3 in league action.
Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, MA) and Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, MA) paced Merrimack offensively on the day with two hits and two RBIs each. Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, MA) and Nicole LoPilato (Medford, MA) both collected a pair of base knocks.
"We had a bit of a slow start today and we fell behind early," said head coach Jill Karwoski. "I thought we played well in game two offensively and defensively. We have four important games this weekend ahead of us."
Lowell tallied two runs in the opening frame to claim a 2-0 advantage. Krista MacKenzie and Elyssa Boris each landed RBI doubles to right center for the visitors.
The River Hawks tacked on a run in the top of the third inning to take a 3-0 lead as Boris led off with a home run.
Merrimack got on the board in the home half of the frame as Palmieri launched a one-out solo shot over the fence in right for her team-leading fifth homer of the season.
Lowell responded with a run in the fourth to restore its lead to three, 4-1. Ariana Darcy registered a solo home run with two outs to push the River Hawks' margin to three.
The Warriors answered in the bottom of the inning, cutting the deficit to two runs. Deardorff laced a two-out double and came around to score as Keaira Perry followed with a double.
Lowell added a run in the fifth as Ali Ferraro's sacrifice fly to center plated Boris from third.
The visitors increased their run total to nine with a four-run sixth inning. Darcy blasted her second homer of the game with one away in the frame. Lindsi Panarelli, Brianna Mahoney and Ferraro all drew walks with the bases loaded to push Lowell's lead to 9-2.
Merrimack matched the River Hawks in the home half of the inning with a four-run burst. Keaira Perry and Palmieri smacked consecutive home runs to pull the Warriors to within five, 9-4. Fugazzotto and Alex Gallant (Salem, NH) each raked one-out singles to give the hosts a pair of baserunners. Curran Hubbard (Laconia, NH) followed a scorching grounder that the shortstop could not handle to allow Fugazzotto to scamper home.
With runners on second and third and one out in the sixth, Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, MA) grounded out to the pitcher and Hubbard found herself in a rundown between second and third. While eluded the Lowell infielders, Gallant crossed the plate before the final out of the inning was made to draw Merrimack to within three, 9-6.
Deardorff tossed 5.1 innings in game one and retired a pair of batters by way of the "K". Thomas finished off the opening tilt, recording the final five outs while fanning one.
Merrimack will travel to the Empire State for a pair of Northeast-10 doubleheaders. The Warriors will face The College of Saint Rose March 31 and Le Moyne April 1.