After many games during the regular season, the MAAC Softball Tournament is finally upon us. The Marist Red Foxes enter the tournament as the number three seed posting an impressive 12-8 record in MAAC play. Today they faced off against the sixth-seed Iona Gaels.
Despite beating Iona handily twice five days ago, the Red Foxes were in for a much tougher matchup this time around. Today they were able to sneak away with a 2-1 win in a game where the offense was not clicking.
The Red Foxes got the scoring done early in the first inning when sophomore first baseman and MAAC Player of the Year Maddie Pleasants stepped up to the plate and crushed a two-run homer that sailed over the left-center field wall giving the Red Foxes an early 2-0 lead.
In the circle for the Red Foxes was graduate student pitcher Calista Phippen, who in the early stages of the game was in a groove mowing down the Gaels hitters. After the first two innings, Phippen already had five strikeouts.
Unfortunately for Marist, Iona graduate student pitcher Kara Zazzaro started to find her form. In the fourth inning, Phippen started to run into some trouble. A walk from Gaels junior catcher Jamie Sheeran and a base hit by graduate student center fielder Jessica Chilcott put runners on first and second with no one out.
Then a perfectly played sacrifice bunt from junior first baseman Kaylin Flukey moved both runners to second and third. Next up was junior right fielder Kayla Haywood who hit one deep to center that was deep enough to score Sheeran from third, making it 2-1. Shortly after that sophomore shortstop Brianna Bailey worked a walk, putting runners on first and third with two outs.
That marked the end for Phippen who was not at her best today, resulting in Marist head coach Joe Ausanio making a pitching change and going to Second Team All-MAAC senior pitcher Kiley Myers who came in relief and was able to get out of the jam.
In the sixth inning, the Red Foxes had a golden opportunity to add on more runs and give Myers a bigger lead when they had the bases loaded with one out. But Zazzaro was able to get back-to-back strikeouts from senior catcher Meghan Davis and senior left fielder Hannah Brock to end the inning.
The Red Foxes were three outs away from victory, but it was not easy. To start off the inning, Myers plunked pinch hitter sophomore Kenadie Gonzalez in the leg putting a runner on first to lead off the inning. Junior Haley Weaver came in to pinch run for Gonzalez and was able to reach second base thanks to a sacrifice bunt from junior third baseman Emma Capuano.
The Gaels had the tying run on second base and a chance to extend this game, but Myers closed that book by getting back-to-back outs to end the game, as the Red Foxes won this one 2-1.
“We played really good defense. We pitched really well. We got that timely hit when we needed it. And that was the difference in the game,” said Ausanio reflecting on today’s game.
Tomorrow at 11am they will face off against the second-seeded Mount St. Mary’s who swept the Red Foxes earlier in the season. Ausanio believes the key for Marist if they come out victorious tomorrow will be getting timely hits when they have runners on base. Despite losing both games to Mount St. Mary’s, Ausanio feels confident that his team can come out with a victory.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics Stockton Photos