Northfield, Vt. – The Albertus Magnus College softball team dropped both ends of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) doubleheader versus Norwich on Saturday afternoon at the NU Softball Field.
Norwich (8-12, 8-2 GNAC) battled to a 4-3 win in nine innings in Game 1 and then staved off a late Albertus Magnus (14-8, 5-5 GNAC) rally in the nightcap to take a 7-5 win and secure the sweep.
The Cadets extended their winning streak to three straight games and they have now won eight of their last 10 games to keep hold of second place in the GNAC standings. The Falcons slipped to seventh in the league and are in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
Despite getting outhit 11-6 in the opening game, Norwich was able to outlast Albertus Magnus scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth after shutting down the Falcons in the top half of the inning with the international tie-breaker rule in effect.
Freshman Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) laced a double to the fence that easily scored freshman Kayleigh O'Rourke (Lyndhurst, N.J.) from second base to lift the Cadets to the victory.
Oliver also picked up the win on the mound, outdueling Albertus Magnus' ace Megan Ferraro (Branford, Conn.) to pick up her fourth victory of the season. Oliver went all nine innings, surrendering two earned runs on 11 hits while walking none and striking out two. Ferraro was the tough-luck loser, throwing eight innings and surrendering just one earned run.
Norwich took the lead from the outset in Game 1 with senior Taylor Morris (Haverhill, N.H.) plating Sarah Perry (New Bedford, Mass.) with a RBI single in the bottom of the first. The Cadets added to their lead in the bottom of the third inning with Kassy Kazimierczak (Adams, Mass.) singling through the left side of the infield to score Perry again to make it 2-0 Norwich.
Albertus Magnus cut into the Norwich lead in the top of the fifth inning with junior outfielder Megan Kelly (Bronx, N.Y.) reaching on a fielder's choice allowing senior Alyssa Puccilli (Milford, Conn.) to race home from third base to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Falcons knotted the game up at 2-2 in the top of the sixth with junior Amanda Jessey (East Haven, Conn.) singling to right field and then advancing two bases on an error. Sophomore shortstop Brianna Whitfield (West Islip, N.Y.) scored Jessey with a sacrifice fly to center field that Jessey just beat the throw from Payton Warner (Harwich, Mass.) home on.
In the top of the eighth, Albertus scored Whitfield from third base with a two-out RBI single by Puccilli to give the Falcons their first lead at 3-2. Norwich countered in the bottom half of the inning, capitalizing on two Falcons' errors. Angie Hershberger (Felton, Calif.) scored after Madison Miller (Long Lake, N.Y.) reached an infield miscue.
Norwich shut the door in the top half of the ninth inning leaving Oliver to her walk off double heroics to clinch the victory.
The Cadets used a big five-run fourth inning to break a 1-0 lead wide open on Albertus Magnus. They then held on in the top of the seventh after the Falcons scored five runs and had the tying run up at the plate. However, freshman pitcher Rachel Johnson (Stockbridge, Vt.) shut the door, striking out pinch hitter Daysia Wehder (Queens, N.Y.) with a rise ball to seal the sweep.
Mallori Cesario (Bradenton, Fla.) led the Norwich offense with two hits and two RBIs. Hershberger and Warner also notched two hits apiece for the Cadets.
Norwich piled up 10 hits in the nightcap to Albertus Magnus' seven. Johnson went the distance to earn her fourth victory of the season. She struck out six and walked four while giving up two earned runs.
Puccilli and Rachel Cataudella (Shelton, Conn.) led the Falcons with two RBIs each as they led the Falcons' comeback bid in the top of the seventh inning.
Puccilli had a big day at the plate for the Falcons, combining to go 6-for-8 in the two games with three RBIs and two runs scored. She also moved into second-place in program history with 130 career hits. Puccilli is just three hits shy of setting a new school record.
Albertus Magnus closes out a weekend full of GNAC play with a doubleheader at Suffolk tomorrow afternoon, April 17, that is slated to get underway at noon. Last spring, split a regular season doubleheader with the Rams in New Haven. The two teams met again in the ECAC Tournament with the Falcons rallying for a 2-1 win.