WATERBURY, Conn. – After sneaking by in the opener by a 1-0 run margin, the Merrimack softball team rallied from a two-run deficit in the top of the seventh to sweep a non-conference road doubleheader from Post University, taking game two, 11-8, to cap off a two-win afternoon at LaMoy Field.
Moving to an even .500 overall for the first time this season, Merrimack improves to 15-15 on the year while the Owls sink to 14-26.
"Today saw a little bit of everything and, most importantly, two important wins to get us back to .500," head coach Jim Cardello noted afterward. "Valerie pitched outstanding in game one and she got some great defense behind her, and then we saw some great, timely hitting in game two to get the sweep. With a huge weekend in front of us, these wins are a good foundation to build on and hopefully keep our success going into the last two weeks of the season."
A single run in the top of the fourth inning proved to be all that Merrimack would need, as sophomore Valerie Bauer (Salem, N.H.) tossed a complete game, four-hit gem to propel the Warriors to a 1-0 victory in game one.
Both sides mustered just four hits apiece, and the only run of the game came by means of an error in the top of the fourth that allowed senior Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) to cross the plate, and Bauer took care of business from there on out.
The sophomore righty finished with six strikeouts and one walk over seven innings to improve to a team-best 5-2 on the season. Post starter Ashley Cummings (4-11) yielded the one unearned run to take the hard-luck loss despite a seven-strikeout performance.
Senior Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.), more accustomed to her role as one of the team's starting pitcher – led Merrimack with two hits after entering the game as a substitute into the catcher's spot in the lineup. Junior Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, Mass.) and sophomore Courtney Ulak (Rehoboth, Mass.) also tallied hits for the visitors.
After Palmieri reached in the fourth on a one-out walk, the senior moved to second a batter later before coming home on an error in the infield. That one-run advantage proved to be enough, as the Warriors held on from their on out to edge the Eagles in game one.
Trailing by two runs (8-6) in the top of the seventh, Merrimack stormed from behind with five runs in its final at-bat of the game, allowing the Warriors to sweep the doubleheader with a dramatic, 11-8 victory in game two.
With one out and a runner on, Merrimack benefitted from an error before senior Helen Gillis (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) loaded the bases on a single to left. That allowed junior Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, Texas) to drive in the first run of the inning on a groundout to bring the visitors to within a run before junior Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, Mass.) tied it up on an infield single.
A batter later, junior Ashley Perry (Winchendon, Mass.) gave the Warriors the lead for good on a two-RBI base knock to center before Palmieri drove her in a batter later to account for the final run of the contest.
Alexis Perry improved to 4-7 on the year by picking up the win in relief, tossing the final 3 2/3 innings of the game and keeping Post off the board during the duration of her relief outing.
The Merrimack offense, meanwhile, strung together 16 hits, accounting for a new season high in the process. Eight different players accounted for a hit each, with Palmieri (4-for-5, three RBI) and junior Nicole LoPilato (Medford, Mass.) (3-for-3) leading the way at the plate.
Palmieri (3) Ashley Perry (2), and Deardorf (2) each accounted for seven of the team's 11 RBI, while Gillis, sophomore Stephanie Lapierre (Berlin, Conn.) and LoPilato finished with two runs scored apiece.
The Warriors wasted no time jumping in front, as Deardorff plated the game's first two runs on a two-RBI single in the first before Palmieri brought home two more on a double in the second.
Down by two (4-2), Post rallied with six runs in the bottom of the fourth, pushing ahead by an 8-4 margin after four innings of play. But Merrimack would not be phased by the deficit, as Fugazzotto got the comeback started with a two-RBI single in the sixth to slice the deficit in half (8-6), prompting the final, dramatic inning for the visitors en route to the eventual sweep.
Merrimack returns to action tomorrow (April 19), beginning a huge weekend of Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division action with a doubleheader against Southern New Hampshire.
First pitch from the Warrior Softball Diamond is slated for 3 p.m.