By Malcolm Luck
Following three consecutive wins in the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament, the softball Lions have been crowned champions for the first time since the 2000 season. The tournament’s fourth and final match was canceled due to weather, but automatically propelled the College to the tournament win due to conference policy.
The Lions’ first opponent was Stockton University on April 30. In the previous two meetings against the team this season, the College outscored Stockton by a combined tally of 15-0 dating back to their doubleader matchup on April 2.
Both offenses came out of the gate hot, scoring a run in each of the first two innings. Senior catcher Jess McGuire’s RBI sacrifice fly knotted the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. After surrendering a run in the top half of the second frame, the College scored in the bottom half of the inning on a fielder’s choice by junior infielder Megan Mayernik to tie the score again.
While sophomore pitcher Alanna Namit struggled to command her pitches, sophomore pitcher Eliza Sweet stepped up for the team, providing four scoreless innings in relief.
A clutch home run from sophomore infielder Lauren Conroy in the bottom of the fifth gave the Lions a lead that they refused to surrender, as the club went on to win 3-2 and advanced to the second round.
Sweet’s dazzling performance earned her the start in the tournament’s second game, as the Lions took on Ramapo College on Friday, May 3. Sweet did not disappoint, as she hurled 4 1/3 innings while allowing no runs and striking out five batters. Senior outfielder Gaby Bennett knocked in the first two runs of the game in the fourth and sixth innings with RBI groundouts.
An RBI single from junior infielder Annalise Suitovsky and an RBI double from Conroy in the sixth and seventh innings provided insurance for Namit, who bounced back from her rough start with 2 2/3 innings in relief. She ultimately earned her second save of the year, securing a win for the Lions as they looked to top their rival, Rowan University, the next day.
Rowan, second to the Lions in NJAC standings, proved to be no match for the College either, as the Lions went on to win 5-2 on Saturday, May 4.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lions found themselves in a 2-2 tie. Suitovsky led off the inning with a double to right center. A productive out from sophomore infielder Elyse Nardozza moved her over to third with just one out in the inning, allowing Mayernik to score her on a squeeze bunt.
Sophomore outfielder Allie Immerso followed with an RBI infield single, while sophomore outfielder Katie Winchock had an RBI groundout of her own. With a comforting three-run lead in the top of the seventh, Namit closed out the game and earned her 15th win of the season.
The Lions currently await their opponent for the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.