By Miguel Gonzalez
The Lions concluded their season on a six-game winning streak as they won two crucial New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) doubleheaders at home. On Friday, April 30, the Lions defeated the Montclair State University Red Hawks in 8-5 and 9-1 victories. The next day, the Lions closed out their final regular season doubleheader with 4-0 and 3-2 wins against the Ramapo College Roadrunners.
During a breezy Friday evening, the Lions powered through a 4-0 deficit to snatch an 8-5 victory against Montclair State Red Hawks.
In the top of the first inning, the Red Hawks’s offense flew into action when sophomore infielder Alana Luna launched a two-run home run to quickly give the Red Hawks a 4-0 lead.
The Lions promptly responded in the bottom of the second inning when freshman infielder/outfielder Daniella Marino crossed home plate on a single to tie the score at four. The score remained tied until junior outfielder Nerylix Cerda scored on a single in the bottom of the third inning to give the Lions a 5-4 lead. The Lions offense never stopped, cumulating an 8-4 lead.
The Red Hawks attempted a comeback in the top of the seventh inning, but freshman pitcher Sara Bielamowicz came to the mound as a relief pitcher and silenced the Red Hawks batters. Bielamowicz’s performance led toward the Lions’s 8-5 victory.
The Lions soon followed up with a dominant 9-1 victory in five innings. Senior outfielder Kristen Fitzsimmons and freshman infielder/outfielder Jess Santelli led the College’s roaring offense with two hits apiece. Meanwhile, senior pitcher Katie Hourihan limited the Red Hawks to only four hits.
“The team really showed its potential this weekend,” senior infielder Deanna Utter said. “The offense and defense are clicking together just in time for the playoffs.”
The team’s six seniors — infielder Steph Vuono, catcher Jamie Purcell, Fitzsimmons, pitchers Ashtin Helmer and Hourihan and captain Utter — all played a pivotal role for the Lions through their time at the Dr. June Walker Field. On Saturday, April 30, the seniors rose to the occasion once again to help the Lions secure the third seed in the NJAC tournament with crucial wins against the Ramapo College Roadrunners
In the first match, sophomore pitcher Sam Platt collected her 15th victory of the season as the Lions won, 4-0. At the bottom of the fourth inning, Vuono drove a single toward center field to send Utter to home plate, giving the Lions a 4-0 lead. The four runs proved to be enough — Platt limited the Roadrunners to only three hits.
Afterwards, the Lions fought for one last win, as they narrowly defeated the Roadrunners, 3-2.
The Lions marked the scoreboard first when sophomore outfielder Madison Levine scored off of Santelli’s double in the bottom of the second inning.
The Roadrunners countered in the top of the fifth inning when junior infielder Grace Brennan and freshman infielder Megan Wall advanced to home off a double.
Down 2-1, the Lions recovered in the next inning when sophomore catcher Jenna Schwartz hit a grounder toward left infield and allowed Utter to score from third base. In another relief appearance, Bielamowicz secured the Lions’s 3-2 win by forcing the Roadrunners to hit pop-ups.
The Lions finish their regular season with an overall 26-13 record (13-5 in conference matches). During the season, freshman outfielder Gaby Bennett and Santelli led the Lions offense with .371 and .339 batting averages, respectively. Meanwhile, Platt led the pitching staff with 15 wins.
By earning the third seed in the NJAC tournament, the Lions set themselves up for another matchup against the No. 4 seed Ramapo College Roadrunners on Tuesday, May 3, at 4 p.m. in Dr. June Walker Field.
“Even though we swept Ramapo, our team has to be prepared for anything, especially in the playoffs,” Utter said.