On a brisk and sunny Sunday afternoon, the Marist softball team started MAAC play at home against the reigning conference champs in the Canisius Golden Griffins. In the MAAC coaches’ poll before the season, Canisius and Marist were ranked one and two respectively, the two best teams in the conference.
In today’s doubleheader, both squads certainly left everything out there, as they showed the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In the first game, the Griffins won easily, pummeling the Red Foxes 12-3 in six innings. However, in the second game, the tables turned, this time in favor of the Red Foxes who won easily by a final score of 8-0 in five innings.
In game one, the Griffins jumped out to an early lead, when junior center fielder Christie McGee-Ross took graduate student pitcher Calista Phippen deep as she smacked her first home run of the season, giving Canisius a 2-0 lead. Marist looked to answer thanks to some defensive miscues by the Griffins, who went on to make seven errors over the course of the two games today.
The first came when senior shortstop Sam Freeland laid down a push bunt, which seemed like a routine play to make. But Canisius graduate student first baseman Nicole Rivait took her foot off the bag when making the catch, and Freeland was called safe.
Later on in the inning with two outs and a runner on first, sophomore designated player Maddie Pleasants hit a high pop up which should have been a routine catch for McGee-Ross in center, but she dropped it, allowing Freeland to score from first, making it a 2-1 game.
The Red Foxes would have their opportunities to get back in this game, but they were unable to capitalize on any of them. In the second inning, Marist had runners on first and second with no outs, and then the bases loaded with two outs but scored no runs out of it.
Marist would live to regret wasting that golden opportunity, as Canisius would make them pay in the third inning, by putting up five runs on the board. A base hit from sophomore second baseman Saige Alfaro, and then back-to-back errors from sophomore third baseman Ronni Howard who had trouble handling bunts, led to the bases being loaded with no outs. After adding a run, from a sacrifice fly, the Foxes were on the verge of getting out of the inning giving up only one run.
But Canisius had other plans as sophomore designated player Rosie Gomez cranked a two-out, three-run home run increasing their lead to 6-1. Next up was junior third baseman Destiny Falquez who joined in on the fun hitting a home run, making it 7-1.
The Red Foxes cut the deficit to 7-3 by the fourth inning, but it wouldn’t matter as the duo of Gomez and Falquez struck again. Falquez in the fifth inning, with an RBI single that scored two, and Gomez in the sixth, with her second three-run homer of the game. The two combined for nine of the Griffins’ 12 runs scored, as they decimated the Red Foxes in game one by a final of 12-3.
After getting steamrolled in the first game, the Red Foxes knew they had to come back strong in the second contest, and they did just that, winning 8-0 in five innings.
They were led by senior pitcher Kiley Myers who tossed a gem today. Myers was dominant, throwing a complete game shutout, giving up only three hits, issuing one walk, and throwing a light 57 pitches. Myers pounded the strike zone all game long, challenging the dangerous Canisius lineup, but she was careful not to make any big mistakes.
“I definitely knew they were aggressive hitters. So I wanted to make sure I kept everything off the middle of the plate because I know if I made that mistake, they [would] take advantage of it,” Myers said.
Marist would score runs by playing small ball, and taking advantage of the Griffins’ pitiful defense. In the second inning, sophomore left fielder Kaitlyn Husic had runners on first and second with two outs, she hit a high infield pop up, but it was dropped by junior shortstop Sydney Costan (who had a rough game at short) allowing senior designated player Hannah Brock to score from second, giving the Red Foxes a 1-0 lead.
In the third Freeland slapped one to the opposite field for a double that turned into a triple thanks to a throwing error by senior left fielder Tiara Johnson, and then another throwing error allowed Freeland to get home, giving her a little league home run. Adding another run via a sacrifice fly, the Red Foxes extended their lead to 3-0.
Some trouble came in the fourth inning, when Myers faced Gomez with runners on first and second and a chance to tie the game, but Myers jammed her with an inside pitch forcing a ground out and a huge sigh of relief.
Two more runs in the fourth, and then three RBI singles in the fifth from redshirt freshman shortstop Haley Ahr, Pleasants, and junior third baseman Alyssa Grupp, made it 8-0 for Marist, and put the nail in the coffin on the second game. The Red Foxes bounced back in a big way with an 8-0 win in five innings.
After the game softball head coach Joe Ausanio had mixed emotions after his teams opposite performances, he was disappointed with their inability to drive in runners in scoring position, and their defensive miscues but was very satisfied with how they responded in the second game.
“My biggest message to them is you have to have a short term memory when things go bad. I said to them, listen, let’s just do the things that we know that we’re capable of doing and everything will take care of itself. And we played a really good game across the board,” said Ausanio.
Freeland, who had three hits between both games, echoed the same sentiment as Ausanio.
“I definitely think we told ourselves that we needed to pick each other up after the first game and I think we really followed through with that,” said Freeland.
The Red Foxes will be back in action once again tomorrow at 11 a.m. when they take on the Niagara Purple Eagles, a team that swept them last season.
“Last year we got swept by Niagara, we’re hoping for a little bit of payback. We didn’t play well up there, and I’m looking forward to playing them on our field tomorrow,” said Ausanio.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics