SOFTBALL: Stiff pitching earns weekend split

After taking one of two from the visiting Pioneers of William Paterson University, the Lions claimed the fourth seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

“Our goal was to be in (the) top six and we did that,” head coach Sally Miller said. “I’m very glad we’re in the tournament.”

Game one went to the Pioneers, as they edged the Lions 3-2 on a sixth-inning home run that broke a 1-1 tie.

The Lions tried to come back, scoring one run in the bottom half of the sixth on an RBI double by senior catcher Lauren Musacchia. Before the game, Musacchia and senior infielder/outfielder Christina Lizzi were honored for their contributions to the program.

“These are two players who have really been a huge part of this program as well as the College community,” Miller said. “Chrissi has been a starter for four years, and Lauren’s come on strong within the last few weeks. Their role as commander is something we don’t take lightly.”

Back on the field, Lizzi had an RBI of her own, an infield hit that scored freshman infielder Colleen Cawley in the bottom of the third inning.

On the mound, despite hurling a complete game, sophomore pitcher Ashley Minervini picked up the loss.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Miller said. “The passion and emotion was there on a beautiful Alumnae Day, but we split, and I wasn’t happy about it. It was very puzzling because we know a lot about how they play.”

In the second contest of the twin bill, the Lions ended on a high note by shutting out the Pioneers 6-0.

Freshman Alex Sietsma led the charge for the Lions, as she tossed a two-hitter while fanning six Pioneers.

“(Sietsma) did a really nice job,” coach Miller said. “There’s no greater feeling than when (a) pitcher’s efforts are combined with executed offensive adjustment.”

The Lions’ offense gave Sietsma plenty of support, as it scored three times in the top of the first. Sophomore infielder Rachel Greeby and junior catcher Kelly Armstrong each knocked in a run in the inning with a double and single, respectively.

Junior utility player Camille Heller also drove in a run that allowed sophomore infielder Ellen Seavers to cross home plate.

Seavers had a big game herself, as she went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs.

“I knew she was going to impact the team since (our opening road trip in Florida),” Miller said. “She’s a major impact player and phenomenal shortstop. When she hits, everyone responds, and her double really set the tone.”

With the split, the Lions end the regular season with a 23-15 overall record and an 11-7 record within the NJAC. The Pioneers end their regular season with a 22-17 record with an 8-10 conference mark.

“We’ve grown a lot this season, and we’ve had to make a lot of adjustments,” Miller said. “The players have stuck with it and fought through the inexperience. We’re a real tough team, and in the tournament we have to bring our A-game for all seven innings.”

The Lions kicked off their postseason run yesterday with an opening round matchup on the road at Rowan University.