CLERMONT, Fla. – The Saint Anselm College softball team picked up two more wins in its early-season spring break at the PFX Athletics Spring Games Tuesday evening, surviving Georgian Court University 7-5 before run-ruling Post University 9-1 in six innings at the National Training Center softball complex in Clermont, Fla.
The wins improve the Hawks to 3-1 overall in their 2015 campaign with six more matchups left to play on the week. Georgian Court fell to 0-6 and Post dropped to 2-3 on their respective spring trips.
With a lengthy delay before the first game of the day against GCU, Saint Anselm seemed to be stuck in low gear for much of it. The Hawks recorded five crucial errors in the game that led to four unearned runs and created a pretty tight matchup between regional rivals.
Saint Anselm would have first ups and freshman leadoff Amanda Bickford (Salem, N.H.) beat a throw for the Hawks' first base runner. The rookie would be cut down by the Lion catcher on the ensuing pitch. After freshman Megan Murrell (Scarborough, Maine) was hit by an inside slider, senior cleanup batter Hannah Byrne (Lynn, Mass.) knocked a laser into centerfield for the second hit of the inning. The Lions would induce an ensuing groundout to end the threat.
Georgian Court would put together a solid inning in the home half of the second, taking advantage of a Hawk fielding error and an ensuing walk. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, senior pitcher Tayla Trask (Lincoln, Maine) lured opposing pitcher Courtney Tylutki into a soft popup to Byrne at third base. A two-out walk loaded the bases for the Lions bringing up leadoff batter Dara Schroeder, who drag bunted up the first baseline. The Saint Anselm defense recorded its second error of the inning with an overthrow, allowing Schroeder to advance to second and clearing the bases to surge the Lions into a 3-0 lead after two innings.
Saint Anselm responded immediately with a three-run third inning as a leadoff Bickford triple dusted the right field line. Senior Kasey Moran (Medford, Mass.) singled to left center to bring home Bickford, and was pushed to third on a Murrell single through the right side gap. Byrne was clutch again with the runners in scoring position, launching a sac fly to right that scored Moran. Junior catcher Pattie Turner (Warwick, R.I.) scored Murrell on a deep shot off the wall in centerfield fence to tie the game after 3 ½.
Trask sat down the Lions first two batters in the home half of the third and preserved the tie through the third, but GCU would retake the lead in the fourth. Tylutki led off the fourth with a double down the right field line and was bunted to third. A perfectly place hit into the left side gap scored Tylutki before a groundout and a Trask strikeout ended the inning.
Georgian Court's battery—in particular its pitching—began to falter into the fifth as Byrne lead off the top of the fifth with a single to center. Junior Julie LeClair (Taunton, Mass.) snuck a bunt past the Lion third baseman and Turner reached on a fielder's choice that cut down Byrne at third. A passed ball advanced LeClair and Turner, but back-to-back walks issued to freshman Emily Barrett (Plaistow, N.H.) and junior Emily Crannell (Wilmington, Mass.) scored the Hawks' fourth run. Turner then hustled home on a wild pitch and Bickford was walked before Tylutki was chased from the circle in favor of Katie Sorochka, who logged a strikeout to get out of the inning.
The Hawks extended their lead in the sixth on a Turner RBI scoring Byrne. Junior Micaela Criscione (Middleton, Mass.) got into the scoring act with a sacrifice bunt, scoring LeClair from third for the Hawks' seventh run of the night.
Senior pitcher Paige Cormier (Rochester, N.H.) entered with a save on the line, relieving Trask in the circle in the home half of the seventh inning. GCU would get a leadoff triple that would score on a sacrifice fly, but Cormier would settle in and induce three straight groundouts to log her first save of the year.
Trask improved to 2-0 on the year, giving up just one earned run and logging six strikeouts.
The Hawks fared a bit better in the second game, scoring a 6-inning mercy rule victory in the nightcap against Post, however the score was not indicative of how closely this game was played.
Both teams pushed a run across in the first inning, the Eagles' coming on a mishandled ball in right field in the top of the frame. Bickford stayed hot with a leadoff single in the home half and Murrell and Byrne combined to knock in Hannah Paitchel (Pelham, N.H.) for the Hawks' first score of the game.
A total of 13 combined batters made an appearance over the second and third innings as Saint Anselm sophomore hurler Sam Hennequin (Auburn, N.H.) and Post pitcher Emily Schaffer held the opposing side scoreless until the bottom of the fifth. That's when the Hawks erupted for a five-run inning barrage as Bickford, Paitchel, Murrell, Byrne and Turner all crossed the plate on a handful of Hawk hits and Eagle miscues.
After a 1-2-3 inning by Hennequin in the circle, Bickford reached for the third time in the game on a bunt single, followed by a Paitchel looper down the right field line. Murrell stepped to the plate and on the first pitch of the at-bat, sent a walk-off shot deep into the night over the right field fence to end the game.
Hennequin picked up the win in her first career start, recording five strikeouts and just one earned run on the night.
Saint Anselm will take Wednesday off before returning for Day Three of the PFX Athletics Spring Games Thursday. The Hawks will face Saginaw Valley State University for a double-header at 1 and 3 p.m. Thursday at the nearby Hancock Softball Complex in Clermont.
The Spring Games, which run seven days a week for five straight weeks, are the dream of Dr. Dot Richardson, an Olympic gold medalist for fastpitch softball and native of Orlando. This year's games feature 310 teams from across the nation.