Gagnon gets 150th career win as softball splits with Merrimack

Gagnon gets 150th career win as softball splits with Merrimack

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Saint Anselm College softball team split its Northeast-10 Conference doubleheader with Merrimack College to open the season series. The Hawks took the first game by a 2-1 final in eight innings before the Warriors walked-off for a 3-2 victory in the second game.

The two teams will wrap up the regular season series on Sunday, Apr. 14 at 12 p.m. at Martone-Mejail Field in a rubber match.

The Hawks now sit at 25-8 overall and 13-2 against NE10 opponents while the Warriors are now 17-19 overall and 8-9 in league play. It was a rematch of the 2018 NCAA Division II East Region finals.

Head Coach Jill Gagnon, a 2009 graduate of Merrimack, picked up her 150th career victory in game one, becoming the second head coach in program history to reach the marker. Another milestone was reached in the game as junior Maggie Murphy (Scarborough, Maine) cracked the program's top 10 list with 85 career runs scored.

In the opener with the game tied at one going into the eighth inning, some timely two-out hitting by Saint Anselm was the difference. After junior Shannon Colson (Rochester, N.H.) reached on a fielder's choice and swiped second base, a two-out double by sophomore Lauren Washburn (Carmichael, Calif.) plated Colson for the go-ahead run. Junior Morgan Perry (Bethany, Conn.) went the distance for her 13th victory of the year and had seven strikeouts while allowing just one earned run on six hits. She now has 140 strikeouts on the season, the 10th most in a single season.

In the second game, the Warriors got an impressive start from Melanie DeAlmeida, who went six innings and allowed just four hits and two runs. Merrimack earned a walk-off win with Abigail Amato driving in the game-winning run with two outs in the seventh.

Saint Anselm 2, Merrimack 1 (Final/8 Innings) Box Score

After playing three scoreless innings where there was only one hit by the Warriors, it was the Hawks striking first in the fourth inning.

Saint Anselm jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning as Murphy reached on an error to start the inning. After she stole second, senior Jordan O'Connor (New Fairfield, Conn.) lofted a blooper to shallow left field to score Murphy from second.

However, the Warriors tied the game up at one in the home half of fourth. A leadoff triple by Amato started the inning. After a groundout, Lucy Colarusso executed a squeeze play, allowing Amato to score.

Both teams only had one hit in the fifth. However, the Warriors threatened in the sixth inning. A one-out single by Amato, followed by a single down the right field line by Caitlin McBride, put runners on the corners. After pinch runner Jenna Bradish stole second, heads-up defense by freshman catcher Bailey Cain (Wellington, Fla.) got Saint Anselm out of the jam. A pop up in foul territory got the second out of the inning before Amato tried to tag up from third and getting put out by Cain at the plate.

With the game going into extra innings, the Hawks had a timely two-out double by Washburn to score Colson, giving the visitors a 2-1 advantage. Colson reached on a fielder's choice, before stealing second. Washburn drove a ball to deep left center easily scoring Colson from second. 

The Warriors had the tying run at second with one out in the form of Tiffany Mangiameli. However, she was doubled up on a fly out to the left fielder and could not get back to the base in time to end the game.

Jenna Wilke went the distance for the Warriors, yielding two runs, one earned, on just four hits and three walks. She had a pair of strikeouts.

Merrimack 3, Saint Anselm Box Score

After retiring the Hawks in order, Merrimack scored twice in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. Mangiameli reached on an infield single before stealing second. Hannah Johnson advanced her with a single to shortstop, before stealing second herself. Amato plated Mangiameli after reaching on a fielder's choice, before a sacrifice fly by McBride gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead.

Merrimack threatened again in the second inning, loading the bases with two outs. However, sophomore pitcher Courtney Fisher (Taunton, Mass.) got a ground out to herself to end the inning with her team down 2-0.

After going hitless in the first three innings, Murphy reached on a bunt single with one out in the fourth inning. However, the Hawks could not do much as Merrimack got out of the inning with two groundouts.

DeAlmeida retired five straight batters heading into the sixth. However, back-to-back singles by freshman Kylie Fitzpatrick (Danville, N.H.) and Cain started the inning. Colson moved them over on a ground out to first. Murphy plated Fitzpatrick to cut the lead in half, before Washburn drove in her second run of the day with a two-out single up the middle to tie the game.

Bryana Michitson retired the Hawks in order in the seventh, setting up a chance for her team to walk-off in the home half of the inning.

A one-out single by Zoe Driscoll-Sbar, followed by a two-out walk to Johnson put runners on first and second for the Warriors. Amato singled in Johnson for the game-winning run.

Michitson got the win for Merrimack in one inning of work while Fisher suffered the loss in the game for the Hawks in six and one third innings of work. She had two strikeouts and allowed three runs on six hits and a walk.