Manhattan Ties Program Wins Record With MAAC Tournament Victory
NEW ROCHELLE, NY – No softball team in Manhattan College history has won more games than the 2017 squad. The Jaspers tied the all-time school record for wins with their 34th victory of the season on Thursday, and it just happened to come in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament. Fourth-seeded Manhattan (34-20) kept its season alive with a 4-3 victory over second-seeded Siena (21-30) in the elimination round at Iona's Donald E. Walsh Field.
Head Coach Tom Pardalis made some lineup changes after Wednesday's loss to Monmouth, and the moves paid immediate dividends, as the Jaspers scored three runs in the top of the first. Shannon Puthe (Mullica Hill, NJ) led off the game with a walk, then stole second before advancing to third on Dominique Palagruto's (Sewell, NJ) perfectly executed sacrifice bunt. Christine Gebhardt (Middletown, NJ) followed with an RBI single just over the shortstop's glove that gave Manhattan a 1-0 lead.
Lauren Pitney (Ansonia, CT) was up next, and she crushed a two-run homer to center field that increased the Jaspers' advantage to 3-0. It was Pitney's seventh home run of the season, as well as her third at this field in five days (she hit two against Iona on Sunday).
After Siena pulled within 3-2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second, Manhattan got one back in the top of the third. Puthe once again started the rally, reaching on catcher's interference. She then swiped second for her 27th stolen base of the season, tying Julie Theret's school record from 2000. With two down, Pitney delivered a base hit up the middle that knocked in Puthe and made it 4-2.
Siena scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third, then threatened to take the lead in the fourth. However, after the Saints put runners on second and third with one out, Briana Matazinsky (Valley Falls, NY) got out of the jam with a strikeout and a popup.
The Saints put the tying run on base again in the seventh, as Paige Hess led off the inning with a single. The next batter, Jazmin Ortiz, sent a ground ball directly to Stephanie Reinhardt (Albany, NY) at short, and she stepped on second before throwing to first to complete the double play. Lauren Sabihon drew a walk to keep Siena alive before Amanda Dodson grounded to short, sending the Jaspers into Friday and eliminating the Saints.
Pitney had two of Manhattan's four hits in the game. She also reached on an error and collected three RBIs. Puthe finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, while Gebhardt went 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. MAAC Rookie of the Year Nicole Williams (Ansonia, CT) tossed the first two innings in the circle. She allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits, struck out three and walked two. Matazinsky (15-7) made her first relief appearance of the year and earned the win after holding Siena to one unearned run on three hits while also notching three strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
Six different Siena players recorded singles in the game, with Patricia Kalesse recording the Saints' only RBI. Sabihon scored a pair of runs, and Dodson also crossed the plate for Siena. Starting pitcher Maddie McMahon (9-10) tossed three innings and took the loss. She surrendered four runs (three earned) on three hits, struck out two and walked one. Lauren Butts pitched four innings of one-hit, shutout relief with six walks and three strikeouts.
Manhattan will play another elimination game at 1:30 p.m. on Friday against defending MAAC champion Marist (36-21), the No. 3 seed. The winner of that contest will play again immediately afterwards against the loser of Friday's winner's bracket game between fifth-seeded Monmouth (24-29) and No. 6 Fairfield (24-26) for a spot in the championship round.