After winning their first MAAC Title in seven years, the Marist Red Foxes historic season ended abruptly after losing two games in the NCAA Tournament. The first was a 9-0 loss against the No. 3 softball powerhouse Florida State Seminoles on Friday, and the second came the next day as Marist lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks by a final score of 2-1.
Going up against the Seminoles would be a massive obstacle for the Red Foxes, as Florida State came into the game fresh off winning the ACC, and posting a 30-2 record at home. The game was played at their home stadium Joanne Graf Field in Tallahassee, hosting the regionals round of the tournament
Florida State proved that they earned the No. 3 seed in the country, as they dominated at the plate and in the field. In the circle, senior pitcher Mack Leonard and freshman Makenna Reid threw a combined no-hitter over five innings, as the Red Foxes had no answers at the plate.
The Seminoles took over in the third inning, when they put up five runs on the board. With the score 1-0, Florida State sophomore right fielder Hallie Wacaser delivered with a double into right field and thanks to Marist senior right fielder Shea Walsh bobbling the ball, the Seminoles scored two runs making it 3-0.
Later on in the inning, it was sophomore catcher Michaela Edenfield who crushed one to deep right field over the wall for a two-run home run giving the Seminoles a 5-0 lead.
Things would only get worse for the Red Foxes for the rest of the way. In the fourth inning with a runner on first and one out, it would be Harding doing more damage, as she belted a two-run homer over the left field wall, extending the Seminoles lead to 7-0. That hit would mean the end for All-MAAC Second Team member senior Kiley Myers in her outing, as she was replaced by sophomore Maddie Pleasants.
Once again with a runner on first base in the fifth, Florida State needed just one more run to end the game via the mercy rule. They would get two, thanks to a monster shot by sophomore outfielder Katie Dack, as the Seminoles would cruise to an easy 9-0 win.
The next day they would face off against South Carolina. The Gamecocks were another tough opponent, but not to the same magnitude as Florida State. Once again it would be Myers in the circle for Marist.
Despite Myers giving it her all, throwing a complete game giving up four hits and one earned run, the Red Foxes couldn’t help her at the plate and lost 2-1.
For most of the game, both teams had no answers at the plate, but in the fourth inning, South Carolina would finally make their mark. With a runner on first and two outs up at bat was sophomore left fielder Marissa Gonzalez who dropped a bunt down. Junior third baseman Alyssa Grupp didn’t know which way to throw, and made a bad throw to third as junior outfielder Aaliyah White scored, giving the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth inning, the recently named MAAC Player of the Year sophomore Maddie Pleasants delivered with an RBI single that tied the game at 1-1. But in the seventh inning, the Gamecocks would strike back thanks to a two out RBI single from sophomore shortstop Brooke Blankenship, giving South Carolina a 2-1 lead.
The Red Foxes had a chance to tie or win the game in the bottom half of the inning, but went down in order, as their season came to an end with South Carolina winning by a final score of 2-1.
This loss marks the last game for five Marist players: seniors Shea Walsh, left fielder Hannah Brock, catcher Meghan Davis, utility player Sam Freeland, along with graduate student pitcher Calista Phippen. All five played key roles in the success of Marist at different points over the last four to five years. Replacing them will not be easy, but luckily for Marist they have a lot of key contributors coming back next season.
Next year they will have MAAC Player of the Year Maddie Pleasants, MAAC Rookie of the Year Haley Ahr, junior third baseman Miah McDonald who missed the whole season with a torn labrum in her shoulder will be back next season, Kiley Myers, freshman center fielder Peyton Pusey, and junior second baseman Alyssa Grupp to name a few.
In the 2024 season, the Red Foxes will be the hunted instead of the hunters when they open up MAAC play as the reigning champs for the first time in six years. It will be interesting to see how the new look Foxes fare without some key players from this championship team.
Edited By Dan Aulbach
Photo From Marist Athletics