EASTON, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College softball team swept a critical doubleheader from Stonehill College, 3-2 and 2-0, on Sunday at Fr. Gartland Field to move within 0.5 games of the Skyhawks for the fourth and final postseason position in the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division. With five league games to go, the Purple Knights are 8-18 overall, 8-9 in the league and 7-8 in the division, while Stonehill is 11-24, 9-9 and 7-7.
Junior Danielle Brown (Vergennes, Vt./Vergennes Union) allowed no runs in eight innings on Sunday, notching a victory and a save. Senior Danielle Barbato (Hillsdale, N.Y./Taconic Hills) had the game-winning RBI in each contest. Saint Michael's swept a twinbill from the Skyhawks for the first time since April 28, 2007, after last taking a pair in Easton on April 24, 2004. The Purple Knights had one road win in the series since then.
In the opener, all five runs in the game were unearned. Senior Caroline Staples (Stoughton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) was 2-for-3 for the Purple Knights, while sophomore Fallon Tierney (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) finished 1-for-3 with a run, an RBI and a walk. Senior Christina Brazeau (Warwick, R.I./Saint Mary Academy-Bay View) laid down a pair of sacrifice hits. First-year Torie Rathwell (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland) worked the first six innings for the win, allowing two unearned runs, before Brown worked a perfect seventh for her first career save.
Senior Michelle Carbone was 3-for-3 with a run for the hosts, and junior Erin Brayden drove in both runs on a double. Classmate Jennifer Mayette took the complete-game loss, allowing four hits while fanning four.
Brayden's two-out, two-run double in the first inning proved to be the only runs Stonehill would end up scoring during the doubleheader. Mayette singled with one down in the second but was cut down trying to stretch the hit to a double by first-year right fielder Julia Sevigny (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill). The Purple Knights plated all three of their runs in the third, with Tierney picking up an RBI single, Rathwell notching an RBI on an infield error, and Barbato's RBI fielder's choice bringing home Tierney with the eventual winning run.
Each team threatened in the sixth, with Saint Michael's putting two on with one out and Stonehill placing a pair in scoring position with two down, but neither squad scored. Brown came on for a 1-2-3 seventh.
In the nightcap, Barbato's two-run homer in the fourth inning accounted for all of the scoring, and Brown scattered seven singles while securing her third career shutout. She struck out eight and walked three, becoming the third Purple Knight ever with 300 career strikeouts (301). Barbato's home run was her fifth of the season - the most by a Saint Michael's player since three reached that plateau in 2007 - and the 10th of her career, tying Kathy O'Neil '81 and assistant coach Meg Currier '07 for fifth in school annals. First-year Aleksandra Apkarian (Butler, N.J./Butler) was 2-for-3, and Tierney was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Carbone finished 4-for-4, and senior Cassandra Squeri went 2-for-4. She also took the loss, yielding the two runs on six hits during a complete game.
Brown escaped a bases-loaded jam with two down in the first inning and left two more Skyhawks on base in both the second and third frames. With one out in the fourth, Rathwell singled to center field, and Barbato followed with her two-run home run to left center. Saint Michael's left runners at the corners in the fifth before loading the bases with two out in the seventh, but the final batter flew to center.
In the home half, Brown inducted the first two batters to hit into outs on the left side of the infield, but Carbone beat out an infield single before Squeri's single put runners at the corners with two down and brought the winning run to the plate. However, Brown ended a nine-pitch at bat when the last Skyhawk flew to Tierney in left.
The Purple Knights hit the road to take on Saint Anselm College for a single game on Tuesday at 4 p.m.