Lions post 4-2 record in NJAC doubleheaders

The Lions improved to 19-8 and upped their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) record to 4-2 as they played a trio of doubleheaders against Kean University, Rutgers University-Newark and Ramapo College.

The Lions defeated the Cougars of Kean University in a pair of 4-0 shutout victories last Wednesday afternoon behind two home runs by junior catcher Kristin Meister.

In the first game, Meister belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to push the Lions’ lead to 4-0. Sophomore pitcher Jess Kohut knew what to do with the lead, shutting down the Cougar hitters by yielding four hits and striking out six to improve to 8-4 on the season.

Meister, who worked hard in the off-season to improve her hitting, is swinging the bat with confidence. “The biggest adjustment that I made was getting an attitude in the box,” Meister said. “It’s all about the mindset that I take to the plate.”

Prior to the home run, the Lions scored an early run in the bottom of the first as freshman outfielder Christina Lizzi roped an RBI double to drive in senior infielder Siobhan Scullin, who had reached on a single.

In the second game, the Lions cruised to another 4-0 win as senior pitcher Jess Donohue dominated the Cougar hitters, winning her 10th straight game by giving up just three hits in the shutout. She had four strikeouts and gave up no walks.

The Lions scored early once again as sophomore leftfielder Kristin Boyer connected on a two-run single in the first inning to score Scullin and Lizzi, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead. Donohue held the Cougar bats in check while Meister added two insurance runs in the seventh with a two-run home run, her second round-tripper on the day. Lizzi and Boyer each finished with a pair of hits in the winning effort.

The Lions suffered a tough loss, 4-3, to Rutgers University-Newark last Tuesday, bringing their eight-game win streak to a halt. A lack of clutch hitting and shaky defense did the Lions in, as they left nine runners on base and committed three errors. In addition, the running game let them down as two runners were caught stealing – first in the sixth and then again in the seventh – stifling any hopes of a Lions rally.

Senior outfielder Kristen Zimmerman was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and senior infielder Cristina Venetucci added another RBI on a pair of hits. Kohut took the loss despite pitching well, as she gave up just one earned run on four hits with eight strikeouts. Winning pitcher Tanya Spampinato escaped with the win for Rutgers, giving up 10 hits for two earned runs with no strikeouts.

The Lions’ bats came alive in the second game against the Scarlet Knights, pounding out 19 hits to register a season high 18 runs, including eight in the top of the seventh.

Donohue enjoyed the run support as she won her ninth straight decision, fanning 10.

Lizzi led the offensive charge by going 4-for-5 with a pair of two-run homers and five RBIs. Zimmerman and junior infielder Kelly Quigley each added three hits to the Lions’ total.

Likewise, the Lions split the two games against the Roadrunners of Ramapo College on Saturday. Suffering an 8-4 loss in the first game, the Lions infield appeared to break down as the team committed seven errors. Head coach Sally Miller pointed to the lack of consistency that is hurting the team at times.

“The most frustrating part is that we know what we’re capable of, but if we don’t have the defense everyday, we’re not going to win and that’s what’s happening,” Miller said.

The Lions scored two runs in the top of the sixth to take a 4-3 advantage, but the Roadrunners blew the game open, putting up five runs in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory for the home team.

Kohut took the loss despite giving up only four hits and two walks. “Kohut pitched an incredible game,” Zimmerman said. “Our defense just let her down.” In the loss, Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Ramapo’s sophomore pitcher Marissa Marino earned her fifth win of the season to improve to 5-3.

Characteristically, the Lions stormed back in the second game against Ramapo to win 8-2 behind a grand slam by Zimmerman.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Meister, Scullin and Lizzi each connected on singles to load the bases, setting the table for the Lions’ cleanup hitter. On the first pitch she saw, Zimmerman stroked the ball over the left field fence for the first grand slam of her career.

“The pitcher that I faced had struck me out on the previous at bat but this time I moved up in the box to take away her curveball,” Zimmerman said.

Donohue walked away with her 11th straight win, allowing two runs on six hits. Zimmerman finished 2-for-3 with five RBIs while Meister also went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs.

The softball team will travel to face Montclair State University on Saturday in an NJAC matchup.