MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College softball team knocked off 25th-ranked Southern New Hampshire University, 4-2, during game one of a doubleheader on Friday before leading in the fifth inning of an eventual loss in the nightcap at the SNHU Softball Field. The Penmen won game two, 12-3, in five innings.
The Purple Knights defeated a nationally-ranked team for the first time since upsetting No. 4 Bryant University, 8-3, on April 30, 2006. Saint Michael's improved to 3-17 overall and 2-8 in the Northeast-10 Conference, downing a Penmen squad that won the last two NE-10 Championships, qualified for the last two NCAA Tournaments, had won eight straight and was leading the NE-10 Northeast Division. Southern New Hampshire is now 15-6 and 7-2 while ranked by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).
Juniors Danielle Barbato (Hillsdale, N.Y./Taconic Hills) and Caroline Staples (Stoughton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) both homered in the opener, and sophomore Danielle Brown (Vergennes, Vt./Vergennes Union) allowed one earned run while striking out five during a complete-game effort. Brown surrendered six hits and did not walk a batter. Staples finished with two RBIs, and first-year Fallon Tierney (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) was 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Senior Danielle DelGreco (Lexington, Mass./Lexington) finished 2-for-3. The Purple Knights hit a pair of home runs off of a Penmen staff that had allowed only four long balls in 130.2 innings this season entering the day.
Senior Lindsey Bolduc homered for Southern New Hampshire and classmate Mo Hannan doubled. Sophomore Sarah Lavallee, who came into the contest riding a 15.2-inning shutout streak and was second in the NE-10 with a 1.22 earned run average, took the loss after yielding three runs on five hits in the opening 2.1 frames. Junior Nicole Gubellini struck out seven and allowed the final run over the last 4.2 innings.
After the first two Purple Knights of the game grounded out, Tierney singled back through the box on a full-count pitch before Staples drove her first collegiate home run into left center field. The visitors added to their lead in the third inning. Junior Christina Brazeau (Warwick, R.I./Saint Mary Academy-Bay View) led off with a single, moved to second on senior Jenna Maksian's (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) sac bunt and scored on Tierney's single to center.
Brown allowed only four base runners over the first five innings, and Barbato homered on the first pitch of the sixth inning to pad the Purple Knight lead. Bolduc responded with a solo home run with one down in the home half, and a pair of Penmen singled with two down before Brown got the final batter to pop to Barbato at shortstop.
Saint Michael's went down in order in the seventh and carried a 4-1 lead into the bottom half, when Brown induced popups from the first three hitters. Two were secured for outs, but the third was dropped, leaving a runner at second with two down. Hannan came through with a two-out RBI double to make it 4-2, but Barbato started the game-ending play by diving up the middle to keep the next batter's hard-hit grounder on the infield and deny the run from scoring. Later in the sequence, an errant throw behind Hannan at third made the Penman break for home, but third baseman Maksian tossed from foul territory to sophomore catcher Hannah St. Don (Lakeville, Mass./Sacred Heart) covering the plate for the last out.
The Purple Knights played the host team in game two, when Brazeau was 2-for-3 with a run and a double. Tierney went 1-for-2 with a run, an RBI and a walk, and Maksian finished 1-for-2 with a run and another sac bunt. Senior Judi Barcavage (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) drove in a run and walked. Brown took the loss after giving up 10 runs in 4.2 innings, but just two were earned.
Hannan and sophomore Brittany Perdigao were both 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Penmen, with Hannan scoring twice and doubling, while Perdigao tripled. Senior Katie Caruso homered, and Gubellini allowed one earned run on four hits in a complete-game effort.
Caruso's two-out, two-run home run in the top of the first staked Southern New Hampshire to a 2-0 lead, but a run-scoring error and a bases-loaded walk to Barcavage allowed Saint Michael's to tie the game in the home half, and Tierney's two-out RBI single made it 3-2 in the second. She proved to be the final Purple Knight to reach base in the contest, as Gubellini retired the final nine batters. After going down in order in the third and wasting a leadoff triple during a scoreless fourth, the Penmen broke out for 10 runs on seven hits in the fifth. Thanks to three errors, every run was unearned. Hannan hit a three-run double in the frame, while Perdigao added three RBIs behind a pair of run-scoring hits.
Saint Michael's remains at Southern New Hampshire to take on Stonehill College for a three-game set this weekend. The teams square off tomorrow with a 4 p.m. doubleheader, as the Purple Knights will serve as the home team.