CLERMONT, Fla. – The Saint Anselm College softball team is off to its best start in two decades after posting a pair of victories on its final day at the PFX Athletics Spring Games Saturday morning. With a 9-4 win over Gannon University and a 10-2 six-inning defeat of Mercy College, the Hawks' 8-2 overall mark is their best since 1994 when that team went 9-1 through its first 10 games.
Senior hurlers Tayla Trask (Lincoln, Maine) and Paige Cormier (Rochester, N.H.) each picked up a win for the Hawks on Saturday while recording some impressive numbers in the circle. Trask improved to 5-0 on the season and took home her second straight win over Gannon, recording five strikeouts and just two earned runs. Cormier improved to 2-1 overall from the pitching rubber, recording five strikeouts of her own and giving up no earned runs in the Mercy-ruled decision over the Mavericks.
Saint Anselm's offense was on point Saturday morning as the Hawks jumped on Gannon (6-5 overall) for three quick runs in the home half of the opening inning. Freshmen Amanda Bickford (Salem, N.H.) and Megan Murrell (Scarborough, Maine) both went 3-for-5 against the Golden Knights and junior Pattie Turner (Warwick, R.I.) went three-for-four with two runs scored and an RBI. Senior Hannah Byrne (Lynn, Mass.) jacked a homerun in the fourth inning and added a sacrifice fly to right for a game-high four RBI. Junior Julie LeClair (Taunton, Mass.) and Michaela Criscione (Franklin, Mass.) each added a pair of the Hawks' 15 hits in the opener with Criscione notching two RBI in the series sweep of Gannon.
The Golden Knights had just four total base runners through the first five innings and only one reached second. Gannon would string together a three-run sixth inning with three straight hits, but Saint Anselm added two unearned insurance runs in the bottom of the frame to hold onto the victory.
It was pretty evident which team was playing its 10th game of the year and which was making its season debut in the second matchup of the day, as the Hawks' offense jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first two innings. Turner went 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored while Byrne went 2-for-3 with a base-clearing triple in the first inning and three RBI. Bickford also went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the leadoff spot and Murrell and Criscione each added a double and an RBI in the offensive clinic.
The Mavericks scored both of their runs on four hits in the third inning, coinciding with Saint Anselm's only pair of fielding errors in the game. After settling back in, the Hawks added a run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to seal their eighth win on the Spring Break trip to the Sunshine State.
Saint Anselm will return to the snow-covered Hilltop for a brief hiatus from game play before gearing up for the Northeast-10 Conference season in two weeks. Should fields be playable, the Hawks will head to Le Moyne and Saint Rose on March 21 and 22, respectively, for a pair of double-headers before battling archrival Southern New Hampshire on Tuesday, March 24 in a potential Queen City Cup showdown.
The PFX Athletics Spring Games, which run seven days a week for five straight weeks from February to April, are the dream of Dr. Dot Richardson, an Olympic gold medalist for fastpitch softball and native of Orlando. This year's games featured 310 teams from across the nation and welcomed institutions from NCAA Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA affiliations for a full week of competition.