WALTHAM, Mass. – Trailing by two runs in the top of the seventh, the Merrimack softball team rallied with consecutive singles and had the tying runs in scoring position, but Bentley starter Carly Taitz induced a strikeout, groundout and a fly ball to end the threat, as the Falcons nipped the Warriors, 2-0, in a Northeast-10 Conference Divisional showdown on Thursday afternoon in Waltham, Mass.
Falling to 9-7-1 inside the Northeast Division and 18-19-1 overall, the Warriors will next open up a pivotal three-day, six-game stretch starting with a Friday (April 26) afternoon doubleheader against Saint Anselm in North Andover. Only one of the two games played tomorrow will count toward the division standings with Merrimack occupying the fourth-place position despite Thursday's loss.
Bentley (14-25-1, 5-12-1 NE Div.) used an inside the park home run in the fifth before adding an insurance run later in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead into the final inning, when finally a snake-bitten Merrimack offense finally came alive. Junior Kelsey Francher (Weare, N.H.) and freshman Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt.) began the late rally with back-to-back singles to start the inning against Taitz, who had only yielded four hits until that point.
But the Falcons' starter locked in and notched her second strikeout of the day before a groundout moved Francher and Perry into scoring position. But with a 3-0 count and the tying runs at second and third, junior Ashley Perry (Winchendon, Mass.) tried to connect, but her attempt turned into a game-ending fly out, preventing the Warriors from three-game series sweep over Bentley.
Senior Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.) took the loss and fell to 8-7 despite yielding just two runs. The right-hander issued four walks, struck out one and allowed five hits, while Taitz (5-9) finished with two strikeouts, three walks and six hits allowed to pick up the win.
In total, the Warriors stranded seven base runners while amassing six hits compared to five for the hosts. Merrimack put runners on the bases in all but two innings, and had golden opportunities in the several instances, including runners at first and second in the first (double play) and runners at second and third in the fifth.
The Navy and Gold return to action tomorrow, hosting Saint Anselm in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.