Softball sweeps Stockton, splits with Kean

By Michael Battista
Sports Assistant

The Lions’ defense holds up in a sweep over Stockton. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
The Lions’ defense holds up in a sweep over Stockton. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

The softball team continued their season over last week, sweeping Stockton University, splitting a set against Kean University and losing efforts against Muhlenberg College.

On Wednesday, April 15, the team traveled to Galloway, N.J. to face off against the Stockton Ospreys in a pair of games.

The first game between the pair was close from the very beginning. Neither team was able to make a dent for the first two innings, thanks to the excellent work on the mound by both pitchers.

However, the Ospreys struck first in the third inning. A throwing error, double and sacrifice hit brought in a total of three runs to give them a lead. The Lions regained control later on in the fifth when junior Deanna Utter continued her impressive season at the plate by singling in a run to make a dent in Stockton’s lead.

The team wasn’t done, however, as they scored five runs between the sixth and seventh innings off singles from freshmen Madison Levine, Bria Bartsch, junior Jamie Purcell and sacrifice hits from Utter and junior Ashtin Helmer.

Freshman Sam Platt picked up the save after allowing two runs in the seventh, making the final, 6-5.

Utter said their opponents were on top of their game all day, making it hard to get something going.

“Stockton was a tough team that fought hard,” she said. “Nothing was given in the game, and we had to fight even harder than them. Their defense made great plays to shut down rallies.”

The second game between the two was just as even, but it took awhile for the Lions to fully get a grip at the plate.

Three scoreless innings lead to the fourth, where the Lions were able to take a quick lead off a sacrifice fly ball from junior Steph Vuono, only to have it tied up again in the bottom half of the inning.

Two more scoreless innings on both sides followed before the College was finally able to finish off the Ospreys in the seventh. Purcell walked with the bases loaded, bringing in a run, followed by a single from Utter bringing in a second run. After an error trying to throw out a stealing Utter, Levine scored from third.

The team returned home on Saturday, April 18 to face off against Kean University’s Cougars.

The first game was a one-sided affair, with Kean taking control early on and holding it throughout as they downed the College, 3-0. The team was able to make the most of their hits in the second game. Bartsch singled in the fifth down the right field line to bring in a run, and Utter belted another home run, her fifth of the season, to score one run. That score held as the Lions picked up the win, 3-2.

The team took a break from its usual set of double headers to play Muhlenberg College’s Mules in one game on Sunday, April 19.

The game was a pitching duel throughout, with neither team getting a hit up until the fourth inning when the Mules were able to reach base. Platt pitched incredibly to get the team out of a tight situation with two runners on base and only one out, without letting up a single run.

“(I) just kept fighting for strikes so the team could get more chances at the plate,” Platt said.

The Mules scored first in the fifth, but the College struck back quickly after junior Kristen Fitzsimmons scored on a throwing error.

Later on in the sixth, Utter singled to center field, bringing in one more run and giving the team a 2-1 lead, leaving them three outs from a win.

However, it was not to be, as the bases ended up loaded in the seventh with one out, and Platt was not able to get out of this one unscathed. Five runs were scored off three separate hits and errors before the inning ended. The team could not come back from this, and the Lions took the 6-2 loss.

Platt said she hopes the team can learn one thing from the last game.

“Just next time seal the deal,” she said. “Don’t give it up late.”

The team now looks towards their last set of regular season games next week at Montclair State University on Tuesday, April 21, and finally at Ramapo College on Saturday, April 25.