|Offense Comes Alive Against Niagara|
RIVERDALE, N.Y. - The Manhattan College softball team exploded for season-highs of 12 runs and 15 hits in the first game of a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) doubleheader against Niagara at Gaelic Park on Saturday afternoon. After the Jaspers (7-32, 2-8 MAAC) notched a 12-4 victory in game one, the Purple Eagles (10-27, 3-7 MAAC) rallied for a 10-2 win in game two of the twinbill.
The Jaspers got on the board right away, scoring twice in the bottom of the first. Jocelin Whitmore (La Habra, Calif.) ripped a leadoff double, then moved to third on a passed ball. Whitmore later scored on an illegal pitch that proved inconsequential, as Kate Bowen (Newtown, Conn.) ripped her first career triple immediately after the balk. Meghan McDevitt (Nutley, N.J.) followed with an RBI double to left center that gave the Jaspers a 2-0 lead.
After Niagara took the lead with a three-spot in the top of the third, Manhattan responded with four runs of its own to go back in front. Amanda Babcock (Haverstraw, N.Y.) started the rally with a single to center, and she scored on Bowen's double to left. With two down, Sydney Weedon (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jen Keller (Woodridge, N.J.) and Amanda Paxson (Cedar Grove, N.J.) notched consecutive RBI hits to make it 6-3.
Niagara added another tally in the top of the fourth before the Jaspers tacked on two more. Whitmore and Babcock recorded back-to-back singles to start the inning. The runners then moved up when Bowen grounded to first. McDevitt followed with a bouncer to third, and the Purple Eagles retired Whitmore trying to score on the play. After McDevitt stole second to move into scoring position, Mickayla Romero (Las Vegas, Nev.) smashed a two-run double to left field.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Jaspers tallied four runs to bring the game to an early conclusion. Babcock started the rally with her third hit of the game, a double that was just fair down the left field line. She stole third, then scored for the third time on a Bowen single. Bowen was then removed for a pinch runner so that she could begin warming up to pitch the next game. However, that wasn't the end of her involvement in the action, as McDevitt followed with a long home run to left field that Bowen caught in the Manhattan bullpen. With the score now 11-4, Keller ripped a double to right center. She then came across on an error, ending the contest by virtue of the eight-run rule.
Eight different Jaspers had at least one hit in the game, and five put together multi-hit efforts. Babcock was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, while Bowen finished a home run short of the cycle. She went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. McDevitt scored twice and drove in three as part of a 2-for-4 day, and Keller also recorded two hits and a pair of runs scored. Kelsi Redding (Tucson, Ariz.) (3-11) was the beneficiary of all that offense. She tossed a six-inning complete game, yielding four runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking six.
Jessica Hitchcock and Alexis Wayne each posted a pair of hits for the Purple Eagles. Becky Zill collected two RBIs, while Ambur Farmer scored twice. Julie DiMatteo (4-7) took the loss in the circle. She struck out six and walked two in 5.2 innings.
Manhattan picked up a run without the benefit of a hit in the first inning of game two. Leadoff hitter Whitmore was hit by a pitch, stole second, and moved to third on Bowen's fly out to deep right. After McDevitt drew a walk, she tried to steal second base. However, the throw went into center field, allowing Whitmore to score. Whitmore scored again in the third, coming across on an RBI single by Bowen.
Bowen retired 10 straight Purple Eagles before Farmer reached on a bunt single to open the fifth inning. With two down, pinch hitter Jaclyn Russell hit one back to the circle that hit Bowen in the leg and ended up as a single. Ali Grab then singled up the middle to cut the Jaspers' lead in half.
The Purple Eagles then broke the game open with seven runs in the top of the sixth. Wayne hit a two-run homer to start the rally, and Hitchcock gave Niagara an 8-2 advantage with a grand slam to center field. In the top of the seventh, Amanda Arendt added a two-run blast of her own to put the Purple Eagles in front 10-2, and Manhattan was unable to mount a comeback in the bottom half of the inning.
Bowen (3-11) took the loss in the circle after allowing eight runs and 10 hits, striking out eight and walking one in six innings. She also went 2-for-4 with an RBI at the plate. Romero pitched the seventh, giving up two runs on two hits while also striking out a pair. Whitmore scored both Manhattan runs in game two.
Four different Niagara players recorded two hits, as the Purple Eagles collected 12 as a team. Hitchcock went 2-for-4 with a grand slam, while Wayne was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Arent also went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Farmer scored a pair of runs. Kim Bryson (4-15) went the distance in the circle. She yielded two runs (one earned) on four hits, struck out eight and walked five.
Saturday's doubleheader marked the start of a span where the Jaspers play eight games in five days. On Sunday, Manhattan heads to Poughkeepsie for a 12 p.m. twinbill with Marist (25-20, 7-3 MAAC). The Jaspers swept the regular season series with the Red Foxes in 2011, but Marist posted a 4-3 win when the squads met in the first round of the MAAC Tournament.