After losing three of the last four games last weekend on the road against Rider and Mount St. Mary’s, the Marist Red Foxes knew they would have to bounce back. They would deliver with two resounding 8-0 victories against the Quinnipiac Bobcats that both ended after six innings.
Although the games were supposed to be played on Saturday, they were moved to Friday afternoon to avoid inclement weather.
In the first game, graduate student pitcher Calista Phippen was in the circle for Marist. She delivered a stellar performance, throwing a complete game, allowing only one hit, and retiring the first ten batters she faced, with four strikeouts.
The scoring started in the second inning when sophomore first baseman Maddie Pleasants led off the inning, and hit one that sailed over the wall in center for a home run, to give Marist a 1-0 lead. Pleasants has been the most reliable power bat for the Foxes all season long. But she was just getting started in this game.
In the third, Marist would tack on four more runs. It started with back-to-back hits from senior left fielder Hannah Brock, and freshman center fielder Peyton Pusey, that put runners on second and third with no outs. Next up was senior second baseman Sam Freeland who sliced a single into right field for a base hit, scoring Brock from third, making it 2-0 Marist.
Two batters later, Pleasants came up with runners on second and third with one out, she picked up right where she left off in the second, with a rocket over the left field wall for a three-run home run, her second of the game. That would give the Red Foxes a 5-0 lead.
This season Pleasants leads the team with seven home runs and is second on the team in RBIs with 35. Despite her undeniable power-hitting prowess, Pleasants approach at the plate may be surprising to some. “I love hitting home runs, but I don’t try to hit home runs. So when it comes, it’s more of a shocker [I’m] more trying to hit line drives in hard ground balls,” said Pleasants.
For Marist coach Joe Ausanio, Pleasants ability to consistently make contact is what impresses him the most. “She doesn’t really swing a miss a lot. If you ever watch her, she’ll fall [a] ball off, or she’ll put the ball in play. Last year [it] was kind of a running joke that she doesn’t strike out,” said Ausanio.
In the fourth inning, Phippen ran into trouble for the first time in the game. A one-out walk by Bobcats sophomore left fielder Brooke Hilliard, and then another walk from freshman shortstop Natalia Apatiga put runners on first and second with two outs. But it would amount to nothing, as Phippen forced a groundout to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Marist would score three more. Freshman designated player Reese Wilson worked a walk to start the inning. Sophomore third baseman Ronni Howard came in to pinch run for Wilson and immediately stole second base.
Up at bat was freshman catcher Isabella Manory, who has done the most damage by drawing walks, as she is second on the team with 20. But this time, it was her bat that did the damage. Manory found a pitch she liked and drove it high and deep to right field and over the wall for a two-run home run.
The Red Foxes went crazy in the dugout as they celebrated Manory hitting her first collegiate home run and giving Marist a 7-0 lead. Later on in the inning, Freeland worked a two-out walk, then proceeded to steal two bases thanks to a defensive miscue from Quinnipiac graduate student catcher Hannah Davis.
Sophomore relief pitcher Taylor Walton who struggled to throw strikes went on to walk the next two batters in red-shirt freshman shortstop Haley Ahr and Pleasants, which loaded the bases for junior third baseman Alyssa Grupp. She would hit a double into the gap into center field, scoring Freeland ending the game after six innings, due to the mercy rule, by a final score of 8-0.
Game two was more of the same, Marist was dominant thanks to some great pitching this time from senior Kiley Myers, and the offense came alive once again. Myers went the distance giving up only two hits and throwing just 57 pitches in six innings of work.
In the first inning, the Red Foxes put one run on the board thanks to Pusey, who led off the inning with a walk and then proceeded to steal second, then thanks to a bad throw from the Bobcats catcher Davis, Pusey went to third, but when freshman third baseman Sofia Vega couldn’t handle the bad throw, Pusey went home giving Marist a 1-0 lead.
Marist would add on another in the third inning, and it all started with senior catcher Meghan Davis who delivered with a double that was hit deep to right field, sailing over the head of Bobcats sophomore Amanda Engel. Davis has struggled mightily this season, hitting just .148, but was able to come up big with the double.
Pusey would move Davis over to third with a grounder, setting up Freeland with an opportunity to drive Davis in with a single. Freeland hit a soft grounder to shortstop, a play that seemed routine but Freeland beat out the throw with her speed, and Davis scored giving Marist a 2-0 lead.
After a few innings without any action, in the sixth inning, the Red Foxes decided to end the second game early. They would do that by putting up a whopping six runs in the sixth inning.
The bases were loaded for senior right fielder and captain Shea Walsh, who was looking to break out of her funk and get her first hit of the day. The Red Foxes would score three straight runs, thanks to three straight bases-loaded singles from Walsh, Davis, and Brock, making the score 5-0 Marist. Walsh has had a down season, hitting only .224 after .341 last season.
Thanks to a wild pitch from Bobcats sophomore pitcher Jaclyn Gonzalez, Walsh was able to score from third making it 6-0. This also allowed Davis and Brock to move to second and third. Pusey would deliver the nail in the coffin, with a soft single up the middle scoring the two on base, giving Marist another 8-0 win.
The Red Foxes won both games by a combined score of 16-0, giving up only three hits in both games. They now move to 22-25 on the season with a MAAC record of 9-5, which will be crucial as the regular season winds down.
Marist coach Joe Ausanio knows that it’s imperative his team finishes out the regular season strong. He believes that it is really important for them to have momentum going into the MAAC Tournament, which is a couple of weeks away.
On Monday, the Red Foxes will be back in action as they take on their MAAC foe Manhattan in their last set of home games this season.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Photo from Marist Athletics