The sun was shining over the Gartland Athletic Field in an early spring day as Marist was ready to play ball in their home opener. Completing a doubleheader sweep against Fairfield University, the second-ranked team in the MAAC preseason poll, the Red Foxes were able to open up MAAC competition strong.
Pitching all seven innings of the first game, freshman pitching phenom, Calista Phippen allowed only four hits, finishing with a 1.29 ERA. To kick-off MAAC play, Marist scored one run in the first inning with an RBI from senior infielder, Brandi Coon, and then in the fifth inning, hitting two, two-run home runs from junior infielder, Claire Oberdorf and freshman infielder, Morgan Gianelle. Starting both the day and conference play off strong, the Red Foxes went into the second game on a high note with a 5-1 victory in game one.
Senior, Kallen Leeseberg started on the mound for Marist in the second game. Fairfield got on the board first with a RBI double from catcher, Drew Westford in the top of the second inning.
After a quiet third inning, Westford struck again, with a solo homer in the top of the fourth. Despite a high-jump effort over the fence from freshman left fielder, Hailee Jantorno, Westford’s dinger went out of the park. With Fairfield up 2-0, Megan Beiermeister went to the mound for relief for Marist. Leeseberg finished the day with two hits allowed on four runs with one strikeout and a 5.81 ERA.
After one hit for Fairfield, Marist was able to get through the rest of the top of the fourth quickly with a quick strikeout and fly out.
After another quiet offensive inning for the Red Foxes, their defensive play was able to hold the Stags off far easier than in the first four innings with Beiermeister facing only three batters to get the three outs.
On an abnormally nice day in late March, most of Marist’s second game of MAAC play was played in the colder shade of the Gartland Athletic Field. After a dominant defensive inning, the sun came out bright in the bottom of the fifth, as did the Red Foxes.
After Gianelle and sophomore infielder, Caroline Baratta, was walked, sophomore outfielder Hunter Hand singled to send Gianelle home and Baratta to second. With one out, Marist was finally on the board. Junior outfielder, Ali Milam, and Brandi Coon put up RBIs in addition to Baratta scoring on a fielding error, making the score 4-2 Marist.
Continuing on the momentum from the fifth inning, Bieremeister allowed one hit in the top of the sixth. A strikeout for the senior pitcher combined with two groundouts for the infield made for another quick inning and defensive upkeep for Marist.
What started out as a slow game both offensively and defensively for Marist, became full-field domination over second-ranked Fairfield. The Red Fox put up back-to-back four-run innings. In a fast scoring fifth inning, Jatorno scored on Milam’s sacrifice fly and Oberdorf’s two-run RBI single sent home Hand and Baratta. Freshman catcher, Kaley Coltrain hit her first RBI of the game to finish up the scoring for Marist in the bottom of the sixth, allowing Brandi Coon to score.
The sound of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” filled the Gartland Athletic Field valley, as Megan Beiermeister took the mound in the top of the seventh. Most in attendance, whether in the bleachers, scattered with chairs and blankets or in the dugout recognize Metallica’s 1991 hit as Yankees hall of fame closer, Mariano Rivera’s, infamous walk-up song, signaling lights out, game over, for the opposition.
After the closing notes of the song into the first ding of the bat, Marist came out strong, delivering on the song’s lights out, game over implication.
Two quick ground outs in the top of the inning were followed by two hits from Fairfield. Even with a runner in scoring position, Marist’s confidence did not wane, leaving both runners stranded with one more ground out to finish the game.
Beiermeister finished the day having allowed zero runs on four hits.
“The defense was really good today, so I knew if anything was hit on the ground or in the air they had my back,” Beiermeister said, pausing mid-sentence to roll a stray baseball back to a young fan.
With a solid win to start the day, the Red Foxes were off to a slow start in the second half of their first home doubleheader. Once they were able to turn around a quiet offensive and defensive start, there was no stopping the fun-loving team.
“I think they just realized that we need to do a much better job at making the routine plays and not try to make outstanding plays,” said Marist Head Coach Joe Ausanio. “I think once we did that we were OK.”
At times when many teams would grow nervous, Marist was able to keep the energy high, loud and constructive. Celebrations at home remained strong and there was always a hustle to and from the dugout, with Auscanio even noting how fun of a team they are when doing what they need to get the job done.
Marist heads into another doubleheader tomorrow against Iona.
“I’m excited because Fairfield was picked [second] in the conference, we were picked [third],” said Auscanio. “I think we hopefully sent a message to the rest of the conference we’re here and we’re here to win.”
Edited by David Salamone
Header photo by Lily Caffrey-Levine