Marist Softball Heads to MAAC Championship

Yesterday, the Marist Red Foxes pulled off a late-inning comeback against the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers. Today would be another big test, as they would face off against the number one-seeded Canisius Golden Griffins. Canisius came into the game as the favorites, playing on their home turf, but the Red Foxes were not going to be rattled by that. 

Marist would come out victorious, winning an exhilarating 6-5 game over Canisius. The win punched Marist’s ticket to the MAAC Championship for the first time since 2019. The game had a lot of twists and turns, as both teams battled it out in search of a spot in Saturday’s championship game. 

In the circle for the Golden Griffins was junior pitcher Megan Giese, who was recently named MAAC Pitcher of the Year. For Marist, they would have senior Kiley Myers in the circle, starting for the second straight game. 

After an uneventful first inning, junior third baseman Alyssa Grupp got things going in the second, leading off the inning with a double to deep right field. Next up was senior right fielder Shea Walsh, who popped one up in short left field. Due to a miscommunication between shortstop Sydney Costan and left fielder Rylee Alfaro, the ball dropped in for a hit, moving Grupp to third and Walsh to second. 

The Red Foxes would score a run thanks to a sacrifice fly from freshman catcher Isabella Manory, allowing Grupp to score and moving Walsh to third, giving Marist a 1-0 lead. 

In the bottom half of the second inning, the Golden Griffins put some pressure on Myers when designated player Rosie Gomez led off the inning with a single. She was then replaced by sophomore Alyssa Cloutier to pinch run. Cloutier wasted no time stealing second base. But Myers settled down and retired the next three batters to get out of the inning. 

Marist would help Myers out by getting her more run support in the third. It started when freshman center fielder Peyton Pusey took the first pitch she saw and slapped it into right field for a base hit. Senior second baseman Sam Freeland stepped up to the plate next, dropping down a sacrifice bunt to move Pusey to second. 

The next hitter was sophomore designated player and MAAC Player of the Year Maddie Pleasants. She would continue her hot streak with a base hit past Costan at short, scoring Pusey from second to extend the Red Foxes lead to 2-0.

But the lead would be short-lived, as the Golden Griffins would answer right back in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, second baseman Saige Alfaro hit a chopper over the head of Myers into center field for a base hit. 

The next batter was the dangerous outfielder and All-MAAC First Team selection Christie McGee-Ross. Myers and the sophomore were going back and forth, as she was fouling off pitch after pitch. But on the 12th pitch of the at-bat, she got the best of Myers with a moonshot that went over the right field wall. All of a sudden, the game was tied at 2-2 and all the momentum favored Canisius.

In the fifth, Marist would break the deadlock through left fielder Hannah Brock. She picked up where she left off yesterday with another towering home run over the right field wall, giving the Red Foxes a 3-2 lead. Later on in the inning, Giese was taken out of the game and replaced by Alexis Churchill. 

Marist had runners on first and second with two outs for shortstop Haley Ahr. She would deliver with a base hit up the middle, scoring Freeland from second. That would give the Red Foxes a 4-2 lead. Marist would load the bases but failed to tack on another run.

But once again, the Golden Griffins would strike back. Right fielder Sophia Recrosio started off the fifth inning with an opposite-field double down the left field line. Alfaro grounded out to second, moved Recrosio over to third. 

McGee-Ross stepped up to the plate, looking to continue doing damage with runners in scoring position. She would do just that with a base hit into left field scoring Recrosio to make it a 4-3 game. 

Marist head coach Joe Ausanio decided to make a pitching change, taking Myers out of the game and replacing her with Calista Phippen. McGee-Ross would steal second base and take third on a wild pitch. Phippen then walked first baseman Nicole Rivait, putting runners on first and third with one out. Rivait stole second base, putting two runners in scoring position. 

The next batter was catcher Gianna Fazzolari, who popped up near the first base side. First baseman Maddie Gore was able to make the catch, but McGee-Ross would tag up and score from third with some heads-up baserunning to tie it up at 4-4.

The Golden Griffins weren’t done, as Gomez drove in another run with a base hit up the middle scoring, putting Canisius in the lead for the first time at 5-4.

With one out in the sixth inning, Brock would start the action with a double into left field. After a strikeout from Gore, Pusey hit a soft ground ball to third, but it was bobbled by third baseman Destiny Falquez, allowing Pusey to reach base safely.

Freeland stepped up to the plate, with a chance to tie the game. She hit a chopper back to Churchill, who flipped it to Rivait. The ball was bobbled, allowing Freeland to be safe, and both runners scored to put Marist ahead 6-5, or so they thought.

Canisius head coach Kim Griffin argued with the umpires, saying that Freeland should have been called out for interference. The umpires talked it over and decided that they would overturn the call. 

Freeland was out on interference and the runs would not count. Ausanio was incensed when he went out to argue with the umpires, but it would do Marist no good, as they still trailed by one. 

Phippen retired the three Canisius hitters in order, giving the Red Foxes one last inning to tie or take the lead.

The inning started with Pleasants drawing a walk, who was replaced by Kaitlyn Husic as a pinch runner. Ahr was up next, who hit a blooper that landed right on the left field line for a base hit, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

Grupp stepped up to the plate and hit a ball the other way, but it was dropped by left fielder Tiara Johnson, but she was able to recover to throw Husic out at third for the force play.

Up next was Walsh, who had a chance to break the game open with the bases loaded in the fifth, but failed to do so. The outcome would be different, with Walsh driving one deep to left field as it bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring Ahr from second and moving Grupp to third. Marist tied it at 5-5 and were threatening to score the go-ahead run. 

With runners on second and third, Manory dropped a perfectly placed bunt, as Grupp raced home to beat the tag, sliding head first to put Marist ahead 6-5. 

Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Red Foxes were three outs away from a spot in the championship. Phippen would retire the Canisius hitters 1-2-3, and the Red Foxes went crazy, celebrating their victory over the mighty Canisius. 

Tomorrow, Marist will have the chance to win their first MAAC Championship since 2016, as they will face the Golden Griffins once again. First pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Demske Sports Complex.

Edited by Christian De Block

Photo from Marist Athletics

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