April 18, 2006
West Long Branch, NJ - Freshman Nichole Alvarez hit a walk-off RBI single and junior Angela Rand picthed a two-hit complete game gem to key the Monmouth University softball team to a sweep of Sacred Heart in a pivotal Northeast Conference softball doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon. The Hawks took the opener 5-4 in nine innings and then won a 2-0 decision in the nightcap.
The Hawks keep their hope alive for the Northeast Conference tournament as they improve to 16-21 overall and 5-7 in the conference, while Sacred Heart's chances of an NEC tourney berth took a hit as the Pioneers fall to 12-30 on the season and 4-8 in the NEC.
Each team scored in the first inning of the opening contest as freshman Ashley McDonough (Lompoc, CA) doubled on the first pitch of the game and later scored on a RBI single from Amanda Bradley (Langley, BC) gave the Pioneers an early 1-0 lead. The Blue and White responded as Sue Micchelli and later scored on an Alvarez RBI single to tie the game 1-1.
The Hawks took the lead in the third inning as Dawn Gilchrist and Heather Gordon scored two unearned runs with Kara O'Dell picking up an RBI on a fielder's choice as Monmouth took the lead 3-1. Sacred Heart's offense woke up in the top of the fifth as the Pioneers scored three runs, two earned in the inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Sophomore Megan Spehar (Thousand Oaks, CA) and senior Chrissy DeMott (Levittown, NY) combined to keep the Hawks' offense silenced until the top of the seventh inning. DeMott hit Micchelli to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Three batters later, with Micchelli on second and Gordon on first by a walk, Alvarez laced a ball to the Pioneers' shortstop who could not handle it which enabled Micchelli to score, 4-4, and send the game to extra innings.
Neither team scored in the eighth, but the Blue and White would threaten in the bottom of the ninth. Freshman Lee Simonetti laced a double off the leftfield wall to lead off the inning, but DeMott responded by striking out Gilchrist and Gordon. It set the stage for Alvarez as she roped a two-out, two-strike single up the middle to plate Simonetti and give the Hawks a 5-4 victory.
Junior Danielle Ellement came in relief to pick up the win as she threw 4.2 innings of shutout relief. With the win, Ellement improves to 6-4 as she allowed just two hits and struck out three in her relief work.
The second game was an old-fashioned pitcher's duel as Bethany Lemenager (New Bedford, MA) and Rand held the opponents offense hitless for the first three innings. Back-to-back Pioneer errors in the bottom of the fourth enabled Gilchrist to plate the Hawks' first run and give them a 1-0 advantage.
The Hawks scored an important insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Gordon doubled to centerfield to plate Simonetti and give the Blue and White a 2-0 lead.
It would prove to be more than enough for Rand who was stellar in the circle. The junior stifled Sacred Heart's offense as she allowed just two hits and only three total base runners while walking no one and striking out five. She improves to 2-8 on the year.
Ashley Dellens, Simonetti and Gordon were the only Hawks to have hits in the second game as Lemenager had a superb outing for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers return home Saturday to face St. Francis (PA) in an NEC doubleheader. Game time at Pioneer Park is 1:00 pm