March 22, 2013

Softball Drops Three-Game Set on Friday in Florida

CLERMONT, Fla. – The Merrimack softball team dropped a trio of games during its second day of action in Florida, falling to Indiana Tech, Shippensburg and Minnesota Duluth, respectively, at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla.

The Warriors fell in the opener, 4-0, to Indiana Tech before losing a wild, back-and-forth, extra-inning affair to Shippensburg, 7-4, in the middle contest. Finally, Minnesota Duluth scored in the bottom of the sixth and held on late to edge the Warriors, 3-2, in the final game of the day.

Merrimack returns to action with three more games on Saturday, starting the day with an early showdown against Kutztown (9 a.m.) before facing Tufts at 11 a.m. Finally, the Warriors will close out the day with Shippensburg (1 p.m.)

Game 1

Five errors doomed Merrimack in its first game of the day, as the Warrior pitching staff surrendered only one earned run while Sam Berrios limited the Navy and Godl to just three hits while tossing a complete game shutout, as Merrimack fell, 4-0, to Indiana Tech to start its Friday slate in Florida.

In the battle of Warriors, Indiana Tech (3-9) strung together an eight-hit performance on offense and benefitted from those five Merrimack miscues, while Berrios stymied the Warriors time and time again, finishing with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Sophomore Valerie Bauer (Salem, N.H.) took the tough loss, surrendering just one earned run over five innings while striking out nine and walking only two. Senior Alie Thomas (Bedford, N.H.) worked the final two innings for Merrimack, allowing two unearned runs while striking out three and allowing one free pass.

Indiana Tech struck in the top of the first, plating an unearned run after Sofia Johantgen reached on an error and later scored on a single from JC Plezbert.

Merrimack nearly evened things up in the bottom of the fisrt after senior Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) reached first on a hit by pitch. Then, in the next at-bat, a fielding error led to an eventual rundown to retire the initial Merrimack batter, and at the end of that play Palmieri was gunned down at the plate while trying to score.

Indiana Tech plated one more run in the third after Jessica Cotton doubled down the left field line to bring home Patrice Suplicki, making it 2-0 after two and a half innings.

The Warriors would only string together a hit in the third, fifth and sixth innings, and no Merrimack base runner would get to third base from the fourth inning on. Indiana Tech, meanwhile, continued to ride the dominant arm of Berrios before adding two late runs in the top of the seventh to seal the four-run decision.

Game 2

In game two, Merrimack took a three-run (4-1) lead after five innings of play, but Shippensburg stormed back with two in the sixth and one in the seventh to tie it before eventually prevailing, 7-4, in a back-and-forth, rain-delayed, eight-inning thriller.

With more than an hour's worth of rain delay causing the game to last nearly four hours in length, it was the Raiders (16-3) who managed to erase a 4-1 deficit before eventually winning in extra innings. With a runner placed on second due to the international tiebreaker rule, Shippensburg's Rachel Shumway cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to account for the game-winning hit.

For Merrimack, both junior Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, Mass.) and classmate Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, Mass.) each finished the outing with two hits apiece, as the Warriors finished with eight hits as a team compared to Shippensburg's 10, while each side committed an error.

Senior Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.) surrendered five runs on eight hits while lasting seven innings before freshman Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt.) took the hard-luck loss by accounting for the final runs allowed in the eighth. Right-hander Emily Estep, meanwhile, earned a complete game victory, lasting all eight innings while striking out 12 and allowing just one walk.

After Shippensburg edged ahead by a run in the second, and following another two frames of scoreless ball, the Warriors exploded for all four of their runs in the contest in the bottom of the fifth.

After a run scored on a throwing error, Palmieri would plate another by means of a sacrifice fly, followed by an RBI double from Keaira Monet Perry. Finally, a double off the bat of Alexis Perry would push home the final run of the inning, giving Merrimack a temporary 4-3 lead.

But the Raiders quickly responded with two runs to slash the deficit to one (4-3) in the top of the sixth. Then, with one out and two on, Shippensburg tied the game in dramatic by means of a double steal in the top of the seventh, and despite two hits in the home half of the frame, Estep would work out of a jam to send it to extras.

That prompted Shumway's go-ahead, bases-clearing double, making it a 7-4 game by the time the top of the eighth had ended. Merrimack would not get much in the home half of the inning, as Estep struck out the side to lock down the Raider victory.

Game 3

With hopes to salvage the long day with at least one win, Merrimack dropped a heartbreaker in its Friday finale against Minnesota Duluth, as the Bulldogs (19-6) edged the Warriors, 3-2, in a game that lasted until nearly midnight to wrap up a long afternoon and night of action for the Navy and Gold.

After two scoreless frames, Merrimack edged ahead, 1-0, thanks to a UMD error in the top of the third to get on the board. That lead was short-lived, however, as the Bulldogs tied it up thanks to a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth.

But the Warriors answered right back in the top of the fifth, as sophomore Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Mass.) poked an RBI single to left to push Merrimack ahead by a run, only to be answered again by the Bulldogs in the bottom of the inning.

All even at 2-2 in the sixth, UMD tacked on the game-winning run in the bottom of the frame, as the Warriors were unable to draw even in the seventh en route to the defeat.

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