It may have been one of the toughest weeks of the season, as the Lions played three New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) teams and a non-conference team.
Junior Julianne Lajiness earned her first shutout of the season against Kean University. Junior Kristin Boyer became the first Lion to hit a home run in the team’s new complex. Ending the streak of firsts was senior Kelly Quigley, who had her first start of the year against Hunter College.
On Tuesday, the Lions hosted a doubleheader against the Pioneers of William Paterson University. In the first game, the battle lasted eight long innings before junior Tara Harrigan came up in the bottom of the inning to hit an RBI single that scored junior Katie Davenport to give the Lions a 2-1 victory.
“I knew that I hadn’t gotten a hit all game and before I went up to bat, I knew exactly what was going to happen, so I was mentally prepared for what I was up against,” Harrigan said. “But when I saw the ball go over the diving shortstop, it was such a great feeling.”
“Tara is a great lead-off hitter,” head coach Sally Miller said. “She’s a gap hitter.”
In the second game, the Pioneers regrouped to hand the Lions a tough 1-0 loss. Senior Pioneer Nicki Arias scored the only run of the game on a double. Junior Heather Hoffman gave up just three hits.
“After losing Jess Kohut, we all stepped up, but none more than our two other pitchers, (Lajiness) and (Hoffman),” Boyer said. Kohut is out for the year after she suffered an injury in a game on March 29. “Without them, the show can’t go on, and they really pulled together and are doing an amazing job.”
On April 10, the Lions paid a visit to the Cougars of Kean University. In the first game, the Lions’ power-hitting junior Jen Hughes slammed two home. She now has six home runs and two multi-home run games on the year.
“When Jen is in a rhythm, she is very tough,” Miller said. “She is really seeing the ball (well).” The Lions saw their offense get into a groove as junior Vicki Blevins and senior Kristin Meister each had three hits. Sophomore Jonna Mahalchik and junior Erin Cusmano contributed with two hits apiece. Sixteen hits were tallied as the Lions won the game 10-0.
After suffering a shutout loss, the Cougars attacked to score the first run in game two. The Lions responded in the third to tie and then went on to win the game 3-1. Boyer, sophomore Christina Lizzi and Harrigan had two hits apiece.
“We trust each other in our decisions, we make plays together, we put hits and runs together collectively,” Harrigan said. “You can tell that our team is working together to win ball games.”
In their final NJAC match up of the week, the Lions split a doubleheader with the Red Hawks of Montclair State University on Saturday. In the fourth inning, senior Red Hawk Athanasia Totaro hit the sweet spot of the ball, sending it over the fence for her fourth home run of the season, putting the score at 5-0. The Lions mustered just two runs as the Red Hawks went on to win 6-2.
In the second game, the Lions showed the Red Hawks what they are made of and Hughes led the way with her seventh home run of the season. Harrigan knocked in an RBI double and Blevins sealed the win with a run-scoring single. Hoffman earned the win in her 11th complete game of the season and her 13th victory.
“When Kohut went down they knew what to do,” Miller said.
In non-conference action, the Lions swept Hunter College on Thursday. In game one, Boyer knocked out the first home run in the new complex to tie the game at one.
“It’s a great feeling to be the first to hit a home run out of the new stadium,” Boyer said. “But it was an even better feeling to know that I was able to score a run to send the game against Hunter into extra innings and ultimately pull out the win.”
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, Blevins reached base on a Hunter College error. She went on to score the game-winning run.
Quigley collected the win in game two and allowed only two earned runs while striking out four batters. Quigley contributed on the offensive side as well, with a game-winning two-RBI triple to center. Boyer was 2-for-3 at the plate.
“These last three weeks have been tough,” Miller added. “When you look at the calendar, you never dream that you would get these games in April.”
The Lions face Ramapo College at 1 p.m. on Saturday.