Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information
AMHERST, Mass. – A ground out by Ally Kido in the bottom of the sixth gave Amherst College a two-run lead and the Mammoths defense held as Amherst secured a thrilling, 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-three NCAA Division III Softball Championship Super Regional held at the Amherst Softball Field Thursday afternoon.
With the win, Amherst improves to 32-10 on the season, while Ramapo now also stands at 32-10 overall. The teams will meet again tomorrow for game two at 1 p.m. at the Amherst Softball Field. The Roadrunners will bat as the home team while the Mammoths will bat as the away team. If necessary, a game three will be played at approximately 3:30 p.m. A double coin flip will determine who bats as home and away.
After two and a half scoreless innings, Amherst broke the deadlock in the bottom of the third inning when Annie Murphy reached first on a one-out error. A triple by Lauren Tuiskula plated Murphy with the game's first run, and a sacrifice fly to right field off the bat of Sammy Salustri gave the Mammoths a 2-0 lead. Ramapo pitcher Erin Fitzsimmons then forced a fly out to fend off further damage in the inning.
Amherst added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth when Alena Marovitz singled to left center was pinch-run for by Sara Buck. Kido then reached on a miscue by the Ramapo outfield, and a base-hit to center by Murphy loaded the bases with zero outs. A Tuiskula single to center field sent Buck home with Amherst third run of the game. Paige Merle entered the game in the circle for the Roadrunners and was able to use a pair of clutch plays by her battery mate Shannon Cox who picked off a runner at second and then made the force out at home to keep the score at 3-0.
In the top of the sixth inning, Ramapo rallied when Ally Spellman legged out a bunt single to start the stanza, before a Harper Patsko base hit gave the visitors a pair of runners. A walk to Nicole Mahoney loaded the bases for the Roadrunners before Gina Pagan struck out the next batter. A pinch-hit single up the middle by Kristen Ruggiero allowed two runners to cross the dish as Ramapo cut the Mammoths' lead to 3-2. Pagan then forced an infield fly out and then fanned the next to end the inning.
Amherst extended its lead to two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Andrea Sanders drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a pair of passed balls and then scored on a ground out by Kido to give the hosts a 4-2 advantage.
In the top of the seventh, Sisi Machinski led off with a base hit to left field and then moved to second a wild pitch. A Jackie Howarth single through the left side of the infield gave Ramapo runners on the corners as Pagan made way for Lorena Ukanwa in the circle. A fly out to left field by Spellman gave Amherst an out in the inning, but a throwing error sent Machinski home as the Roadrunners pulled to within one (4-3). A walk to Patsko gave the visitors a runner in scoring position, but a strikeout and a foul out ended the threat as Amherst held on for a thrilling victory.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Tuiskula was 2-for-3 at the plate with a triple, a run scored and two RBI, while Salustri also collected two hits and drove in a run to lead Amherst offensively.
- Pagan was terrific in the circle allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits while fanning nine batters in six innings of work. She is now 21-4 this season in the circle.
- Ukanwa picked up her third save of the season tossing a strikeout in an inning's worth of pitching relief.
- Patsko had three of Ramapo's seven hits in game one including the team's lone extra-base hit (a double), while Fitzimmons suffered the loss in the circle and moves to 14-4 on the season.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Playing in its first-ever NCAA Super Regional, Amherst now stands at 9-6 overall in NCAA postseason games, and has won four straight national playoff games in 2017.