Stale offense dooms softball in season-opening losses Sunday
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – After starting off the season with four runs in its first turn at the plate, the Merrimack softball team's offense went cold the rest of the way, as the Warriors dropped a two-game set in Long Island, falling to host Adelphi, 12-4, in the opener before LIU Post managed to shut out the Navy and Gold, 2-0, in the second contest on Sunday afternoon at Janet L. Ficke Field.
Falling to 0-2 overall to start the season, the Warrior offense managed just six hits over the course of the day, with all four runs coming in the top of the first against Adelphi before putting up zeroes through the remaining 11 innings between both games.
"Sunday's disappointing results included steps forward in determining a stable lineup for Division play," head coach Jim Cardello said afterward. "We got contributions from Ashley Perry (Winchendon, Mass.) on offense, as well as freshman Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt.), who held a strong LIU Post lineup to just two runs and three hits."
The Warriors hopped out in front with a four-run first inning, but that was all the offense the visitors would muster, as the Panthers responded with 12 unanswered scores en route to the mercy rule-shortened 12-4 decision.
Merrimack was the beneficiary of two Adelphi errors which allowed all four runs to score, unearned. Sophomore Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice before stealing second. After back-to-back walks loaded the bases, junior Kelsey Francher (Weare, N.H.) reached on an error by the Adelphi shortstop, allowing Gibbs to score from third to give the Navy and Gold the lead.
One batter, later, senior Helen Gillis (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) got aboard thanks to another miscue by the Adelphi shortstop, one which plated the trio of Francher, senior Curran Hubbard (Laconia, N.H.), and classmate Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.), pushing the Warriors ahead, 4-0, at the end of a half inning.
But Adelphi chipped away at the lead, slicing the deficit in half thanks to a two-run bottom of the first for the hosts before tying the contest at 4-4 with two more in the second. The Panthers managed five hits in that span against senior Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.) and also benefited from a Merrimack error in the first that allowed an unearned run to cross.
Following a scoreless third, the Panthers exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth to break the 4-4 tie, as the home side compiled eight hits against Deardorff and classmate Alie Thomas (Bedford, N.H.), to go ahead, 11-4.
After the Merrimack offense was kept in check again in the fifth, the Panthers surpassed the eight-run threshold necessary to clinch the five-inning mercy rule. Sophomore Valerie Bauer (Salem, N.H.) entered the contest to pitch the last inning, while Deardorff took the loss after giving up eight runs – seven earned – in 3.1 innings, walking one and surrendering nine hits along the way.
In the afternoon battle against the Pioneers (1-0), strong pitching proved to be the theme throughout, as Alexis Perry impressed in her debut outing with the Warriors, limiting a potent LIU Post lineup to just four hits and two runs while striking out two and walking just one.
But on the flip side, the same rang true for LIU Post's Liz Weber. The junior hurler went the distance, surrendering three hits while striking out 11 and walking only two for the complete game shutout. Only Ashley Perry, junior Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, Mass.) and Palmieri would muster hits against Weber, as no Warrior would get past second base over the course of the day.
Both of the Pioneers' runs would come by means of sacrifice flies. In the bottom of the first, Maria Palmeri would lead things off with a triple against Alexis Perry before scoring two batters later on a long fly ball to right.
Two innings later, it was Palmeri again generating offense for the Pioneers, this time sending a fly ball out to right to score another LIU run on a sacrifice, giving the hosts a 2-0 lead that would prove to be enough.
Weber would only surrender a hit in the sixth over the ensuing four innings, as Merrimack's bats were stymied by the right-hander the rest of the way.
Merrimack returns to action next Sunday, March 10, with a doubleheader on the road at Queens (N.Y.). First pitch is set for 12 p.m.