On a day where the weather changed dramatically throughout the day, the same was true for the Marist Red Foxes performance on the diamond. On senior day and in their last set of home games this season, the Red Foxes saved the theatrics for the end, as they split a doubleheader with the Lafayette Leopards. The first game was a doozy as the Leopards beat the Red Foxes with ease 9-1. The second game however was one for the ages, as Marist won 15-13, in 11 innings.
Prior to the games, the senior players on the team were honored in a ceremony where they were joined by their families and bestowed sentimental gifts.
In game two, the Red Foxes wasted no time going on the attack mode against the Leopards; they put up an offensive barrage in the first inning, scoring 11 runs. Junior catcher Shea Walsh had two RBI singles in the inning, and a pair of three-run dingers from freshman pitcher Maddie Pleasants and sophomore shortstop Miah McDonald accounted for eight of the 11 runs in the inning.
You would think that jumping on to an 11-0 lead means that the rest of the game would be nice and easy and you would be able to get comfortable. Not so fast! Unfortunately for Marist, Pleasants wasn’t particularly sharp on the mound, and Lafayette made her pay for it. Despite getting through the first inning without a hitch, Pleasants started to falter in the next two innings.
In the top of the second, Lafayette scored four runs on three hits and still managed to leave three on base. She struggled mightily with her command as two of the four runs in the inning were from walks with the bases loaded. While the second inning was bad, the third inning was even more pitiful. The Leopards tacked on seven more runs, four of those runs came from RBI singles, as Pleasants was unable to get runners out, and was unable to even finish off the inning.
The crazy thing is that 22 of the 28 runs scored in this game came in the first three innings. The rest of the game prior to extra innings was mostly uneventful, as both teams had their chances, but the two squads failed to add another run for quite a while.
One moment that did stand out was senior pitcher Calista Phippen having to hit for the first time in her career as she came in to relieve the struggling Pleasants on the mound. Due to the fact that Pleasants came into the game as a pitcher and hitter, there was no designated player, so Phippen was forced to swing the bat. In the bottom of the fourth she dropped a successful sacrifice bunt that moved McDonald all the way to third, but they couldn’t get the run in.
It wasn’t until the top of the 10th inning where the international tiebreaker was enforced, a rule where the runner is placed on second base to start the inning. When that happened, the Leopards jumped on the board after senior third baseman Natasha Miner stole third. Shortly after, she scored from third base on a sacrifice fly from junior right fielder Grace Harvey, allowing Miner to touch home. The Leopards now had a 12-11 lead and were three outs away from closing the deal.
But the Red Foxes would strike back, after freshman left fielder Lauren Morrell, moved from second to third on a groundout, she was driven in by sophomore second baseman Alyssa Grupp, who smacked one up the middle tying the game at 12 a piece.
In the top of the 11th, the Leopards retook the lead, as they took advantage of a wild pitch, which allowed junior pitcher Kaili Reitano to score from third, making it 13-12 Leopards. Once again the Red Foxes would have one last chance to stay alive. Junior center fielder Sam Freeland came in to pinch hit for junior center fielder Hannah Brock, and delivered an RBI double up the middle which scored Pleasants from second and tied the game.
Up next was senior outfielder Alyssa Yarem, who had a golden opportunity to put the marathon game to an end. She delivered in a big way, crushing a two-run walkoff home run over the center field fence, winning it for the Red Foxes 15-13. How fitting for a game to end, Yarem delivered in her last at bat in a home game. “Just to keep it simple, see the ball, hit the ball and things happen,” said Yarem when describing her approach in her clutch at bat.
Game one was murky with cloudy skies and periods of sporadic drizzling rain. Lafayette made their presence known early, as they started the game with a towering leadoff home run by senior third baseman Natasha Miner to put themselves up 1-0. Senior pitcher Calista Phippen managed to get out of more trouble getting out of a jam with runners on second and third.
The top of the third inning would prove to be the inning from hell for the Red Foxes, as the Leopards put on an offensive avalanche, scoring a whopping six runs in the inning, giving themselves a comfortable 7-0 lead.
The only bright spot in game one for Marist happened in the bottom of the third inning when graduate student shortstop Caroline Baratta hit a rocket over the right field fence for a home run making it 7-1. What made this hit particularly special is that it was Baratta’s 237th hit, making her the all-time hits leader for Marist Softball. “It definitely means a lot to me. I definitely could not have done it without every single one of my teammates I’ve ever played with here at Marist; I definitely could not have done it without my coaches, [and] my family,” said Baratta.
The rest of the game was rather uneventful for Marist, as Phippen continued to get battered by the Lafayette hitters who tacked on two more runs in the fifth, and the game was called at the end of five innings, with Lafayette coming out on top 9-1.
The Red Foxes have two important games coming up this weekend on Saturday on the road against St. Peter’s where they can’t afford to get swept. If they do, their hopes of qualifying for the last spot in the MAAC Playoffs, can be put to rest.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Luke Sassa