Softball Splits with Pace Saturday

NORTH ANDOVER, MA – The Merrimack softball team snapped a five-game skid defeating Pace 7-5 in game two of a conference doubleheader Saturday after dropping game one 6-2.

In the first game, the Setters took the first inning lead behind a two-out, two-strike home run from cleanup hitter Hana Wright.

The visitors tacked on two more in the third, before Merrimack cut the lead in half in the fourth. Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, TX) singled home Ashley Perry (Winchendon, MA), and Monique Gosselin (Lawrence, MA) came into score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of left fielder Nicole LoPilato (Medford, MA).

But Pace responded in the sixth, ending the day for Warrior pitcher Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, MA) with back-to-back homers from Samantha Garcia and Chelsea Shea to push the lead back to four runs.

Deardorff struck out six and allowed five hits and six runs in 5.1 innings on the hill, while Valerie Bauer (Salem, NH) retired all five batters she faced.

Caitlin McCann got the win for Pace, hurling six innings on the hill, while allowing seven hits, two runs and striking out four.

Gosselin led the Warriors, going 3-for-3, getting three of her team's seven hits in the losing effort.

Sabrina Gonzalez hit the first pitch of the second game deep to right center for a leadoff homer, but the Warriors exploded for six runs in their half of the first.

Merrimack took advantage of four first-inning walks, two illegal pitches, and an RBI single from Alex Gallant (Salem, NH) to end Kelly Fisher's day on the hill after just one out and four runs in.

But the Setters got back in the game with three in the third on a three-run homer from Wright, her second of the day, and added another run on a throwing error in the fourth, cutting Merrimack's lead to one.

Alie Thomas (Bedford, NH), who took over for Bauer on the hill with two outs in the second, ended a big scoring threat in the fifth as she got Wright to ground into the 4-6-3 double play to retire the side.

Giovannini then opened Merrimack's half of the fifth with a homer to deep left, her third of the season, to increase the lead to two runs.

Pace put the tying run on base in its last at-bat, and Wright, who was 4-for-8 with two homers and five RBIs in the doubleheader came to the plate with two outs in the seventh and runners on first and second. But Thomas got the Setters' cleanup hitter to ground out to Perry at second to end the game and snap Merrimack's five-game skid.

Thomas got the win, her sixth of the year, allowing one unearned run over 4.1 innings on the hill. Shea, who replaced Fisher in the first, struck out four in 5.2 innings of relief.                                                                   

Gallant and Giovannini led Merrimack offensively in the nightcap, each notching a multi-hit game.

"I was happy with the way we rebounded in the second game," said head coach Jill Karwoski. "We've been going through a tough time, and I was happy to see get off to a good start in the second game."

Merrimack (10-17, 4-11 NE-10) continues its season-long eight-game home stand with a doubleheader against Stonehill Wednesday at 3 p.m.