LOWELL Mass. – Backed by a dominant outing by sophomore Valerie Bauer (Salem, N.H.) in the circle, the Merrimack softball team edged UMass Lowell, 2-1, in game one before the River Hawks took the late game by a 10-0 margin, as the Warriors split their Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division doubleheader on Monday afternoon at River View Field.
Moving to 6-10 overall on the season, the Warriors start out NE-10 Division play 1-1, while the River Hawks move to 10-14 overall with a 4-1 division record. Merrimack will next return to action tomorrow (April 2) with a Tuesday afternoon single-game showdown at Bentley. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m.
"We battled hard in the opening game and were able to pick up an important win," head coach Jim Cardello noted afterward. "Unfortunately, we made some mistakes to start game two and Lowell's bats came alive and we weren't able to recover. We've got to come out sharper tomorrow and look to bounce back."
Bauer put together one of her finest outings of her young career, and Merrimack's defense backed her up, as the Warriors took game one over Lowell, 2-1, on Monday afternoon.
The righty and Salem, N.H., native was brilliant and nearly logged her second complete game of the season. Bauer went 6 1/3 frames while allowing just one earned run on two hits and used two strikeouts to improve to 3-1 on the year. Freshman Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt.) came on in the bottom of the seventh with the tying run on base and retired the final two batters to pick up her fourth save of her rookie season.
The Warrior offense, meanwhile, drove in two runs on six hits while the defense was perfect on the game. UMass Lowell starter Marielle Handley was tough to crack, but despite seven strikeouts, Merrimack managed two runs to secure the win.
Merrimack edged ahead in the top of the first, as senior Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) singled to center, stole second and moved to third on another base hit. Then, with junior Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, Texas) at first, Palmieri advanced home on a throw down to second during a successful stolen base attempt, pushing the Navy and Gold up by one after the first.
Two innings later, the Warriors picked up what wound up being the game-winning run. Junior Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, Mass.) led things off a single before stealing second. After a sacrifice moved her to third, the junior came in to score on a groundout RBI off the bat of Palmieri, giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead in the third.
That would be it for the Merrimack offense, but those two runs proved to be enough, as Lowell mounted a late rally in the bottom of the seventh that came up just short, as Perry stranded the tying run at second with a lineout and a strike out to end the match.
After Bauer kept the River Hawks in check in game one, Lowell rocketed out to a 5-0 lead in the first and never looked back, as Merrimack dropped game two, 10-0.
The Warriors finished the late game with a meager three hits, and after going perfect on defense in the opener, Merrimack committed three errors in the nightcap.
UMass Lowell, meanwhile, ripped off 10 hits after being held to just two in the early game, as Perry lasted just five batters and gave up five runs before being pulled in favor of senior Alie Thomas (Bedford, N.H.), who pitched the remainder of the game.
In the first inning, sophomore Abby Jamieson cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to give the River Hawks an early 3-0 lead. One batter later, Ali Ferraro blasted a home run to make it 5-0 and end Perry's afternoon.
In the second, Lowell padded its lead with four more runs to go ahead by nine, as Ariana Darcy came through with an RBI triple to highlight the inning. Darcy knocked in another run by means of a triple in the third to account for the final run of game two.
Marielle Handley tossed got the start for the River Hawks in the late game as well and earned the victory after pitching four innings and allowing no runs on just three hits.