by Tom Utescher
Having to play catch-up in both games of last Wednesday’s Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference softball doubleheader, Chestnut Hill College rallied, but came up a little short each time.
In the first game, the visiting Georgian Court Lions scored all three of their runs in the second inning. The Griffins finally broke up the shut out in the bottom of the seventh, but fell, 3-2. Trailing 8-1 midway through the fifth inning of the second contest, CHC came back to 10-6 by the end of the sixth, but the umps ended the game there due to increasing heavy periods of rain that made the field unplayable.
Georgian Court took a 5-17 overall record back to Lakewood, N.J., while CHC contemplated a mark of 2-10. The two teams had mirror-image records within the CACC, the Lions at 4-0, and the Griffins, 0-4. Nevertheless, it was encouraging for the locals to be able to do some scoring under pressure, since they’d been shut out in their three previous games.
In last Wednesday’s opener, the visiting Lions had an edge in the hitting column, 8-6, but they were charged with one error while the Griffins were flawless in the field. Senior Courtney Dayter (a righthander, like all the CHC hurlers) pitched the entire game and shut out the visitors in six frames, but a three-run burst in the second would be enough for Georgian Court. Dayter struck out three and walked one.
The decisive half-inning began with a walk, then a double and a wild pitch got the Lions on the board. Three singles followed, and two of them earned their authors RBI’s, completing the scoring for the Jersey girls.
The Griffin hitters went down one-two-three several times before the arm of visiting pitcher Abby Merriman (10 strike-outs with one walk), and in the fourth inning CHC got a runner to third but left her stranded.
In their final turn in the bottom of the seventh, the hosts got a two-out rally going after singles by junior Laura Eidam and sophomore Jenna Long were followed by a pair of strike-outs. Long, inevitably nicknamed “J-Lo”, prompted the playing of “Jenny from the Block” on the P.A. system every time she stepped into the batter’s box.
On the mound, Merryman’s aim faltered momentarily and she hit CHC freshman Koraima Dudley, loading the bases with Griffins. Junior Megan Kehr drove the ball up the gut and wound up on second as the Lions made a throw to the plate but could not prevent the second of two CHC runs from scoring. Chestnut Hill now had the tying and winning runs on second and third, but there they stayed as a ground-out ended the game.
The Griffins fell behind early in the second game, as well, but it was only 2-1 after the first inning. With the bases loaded and one out, the Griffins scored their run when Georgian Court went for the force-out at second on a ball put in play to the left side of the infield by Long.
The 2-1 tally stayed on the scoreboard through the next two innings, but four runs in the fourth and two more in the top of the fifth boosted the Garden State squad to an 8-1 lead. The highlight for the Lions was Alyssa Paradiso’s bases-loaded triple deep to right field in the fourth frame. That blast, coming with no outs in the book, prompted a pitching change for Chestnut Hill; starting junior Kaitlyn Johnson (9H, 0K, 2BB) made way for sophomore Briannen Holloway (4H, 2K, 5BB).
In the bottom of the fifth, CHC’s offense revived. Dudley led off with a walk, then scored when junior Nicole Carney slammed a ball that hit the ground just in front of the centerfielder and then hopped by her to the base of the fence. Winding up on third, Carney had to hold up as the next two hitters lined-out and struck-out, but she was able to score when Long drove a hit through the middle.
The hosts still weren’t in a great position to start the sixth frame, but at least they were down by five runs (8-3), and not seven. The rain that had been forecast had held off for the first part of the twin bill, but it began to fall early in the second game. It let up for a spell in the middle innings, but then returned and began to grow more steady.
In the top of the sixth, Georgian Court had runners on second and third base with one out (both had originally gotten on with walks). Megan Sfraga’s sacrifice fly to centerfield brought in one run, and a second scored when CHC got the ball back in to third base but bobbled it out of play.
With the score now 10-3 and the infield becoming distinctly muddy, the Griffins picked up their sticks for the bottom of the sixth. Three batters in, there was one out and CHC had two runners on base thanks to a walk and a hit batter. Dudley came through with an RBI single, then, on a hit sent across second base by Carney, CHC’s lead runner was tagged out at home on the throw from centerfield.
Dudley got to third on the play and Carney later stole second. Dudley scored on a single by Kehr, making it 10-5, with Carney reaching third and later coming home on a wild pitch. The eventual final score (10-6) was now in the books. Kehr, who had gotten to second as Carney went home on the Lions’ errant pitch, was nabbed on an attempt to steal third base.
The inning ended, and so did the game. The rain showed no sign of letting up this time, the balls had to be toweled off almost continually, and the field was becoming a quagmire. The umps called it a day.