SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Saint Michael's College softball team split a doubleheader with 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifier Le Moyne College on Sunday when senior Caroline Staples' (Stoughton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) walk-off sacrifice fly gave the Purple Knights a 4-3 win in game two at the Niland Athletic Complex. As the visiting team on their home field, the Dolphins took the opener 9-0 in five innings.
Saint Michael's split its second Northeast-10 Conference twinbill in as many tries this year against 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, moving to 2-11 overall and 2-2 in the league while capturing its second win ever against Le Moyne on the Dolphins' home diamond, and the first since the 2005 NE10 Tournament. Including a victory over Merrimack College in that same postseason, Sunday's win was the Purple and Gold's third win ever in Syracuse. The Dolphins are now 18-11 and 2-5 after losing six league contests all last season en route to finishing as NE10 Southwest Division regular-season tri-champions. Le Moyne was the 2016 NCAA East Region Tournament runner-up, being eliminated by Southern New Hampshire University, which Saint Michael's split on Wednesday.
Senior Danielle Barbato (Hillsdale, N.Y./Taconic Hills) keyed the Purple Knights' nightcap victory by going 4-for-4 with one run, two RBIs and her third home run of the year. It was her eighth career dinger, tying Kate Condon '11 for seventh in program history. Sophomore Fallon Tierney (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and first-year Julia Sevigny (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill) was 1-for-2 with a run and a double as her first collegiate hit, as well as being hit by a pitch. Junior Danielle Brown (Vergennes, Vt./Vergennes Union) allowed one earned run during a complete-game win, striking out eight and walking none.
Junior Tess Andrews hit a two-run home run for Le Moyne, and senior Kelly Mascari homered to account for the other run. First-year Peyton Bellrose took the loss, allowing the winning run and two hits in 1.2 innings of relief. The Purple Knights knocked out junior Alexis Eastman, the NE10 leader in strikeouts and co-leader in wins, after five frames, as she yielded three runs on five hits with five strikeouts.
Sevigny led off the home half of the third with a double before Tierney and Barbato came through with consecutive RBI singles with one down to make it 2-0. The Dolphins immediately countered the next inning, as Mascari homered with one out before Andrews hit a two-out, two-run home run, with both runs unearned. However, Barbato tied the game with a home run to left field with two down in the fifth.
Le Moyne senior pinch-hitter Courtney Case doubled with one out in the seventh to put the go-ahead run in scoring position before moving to third as Brown struck out the next batter on a pitch in the dirt, but the final batter flew out to Tierney in center. With one out in the bottom half, Tierney singled and moved to third on a Barbato knock. After first-year Torie Rathwell (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland) was intentionally walked to load the bases, Staples lofted a fly ball to center field to drive in Tierney with the winning run.
Tierney and senior Christina Brazeau (Warwick, R.I./Saint Mary Academy-Bay View) both went 1-for-2 in the opener, and Rathwell allowed eight runs over the first four innings, but only three were earned.
Case went 3-for-4 with two runs and a double for the hosts, and Bellrose was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs. She was also the winning pitcher, shutting the Purple Knights out on two hits over four innings.
The Dolphins scored four runs on four hits in the first inning, with three of their runs unearned. Three more runs came around in the second, and Bellrose drove in a run during the fourth. The hosts added a fifth-inning run.
The Purple Knights open their home slate on Tuesday when they take on Southern New Hampshire for a single contest at 3 p.m. The Penmen are receiving votes toward the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) national poll.