No. 20 Softball Rallies to Sweep Merrimack in Home Opener


When and Where: March 26, 2016 – Manchester, N.H. (SNHU Softball Field)
Scores: Game One: No. 20 Southern New Hampshire University 3, Merrimack College 2 | Game Two: No. 20 Southern New Hampshire University 12, Merrimack College 5
Records: SNHU 10-5 (3-1 Northeast-10), Merrimack 5-16 (0-4 Northeast-10)

Sophomore Sarah Lavallee (Candia, N.H.) picked up a pair of wins in the circle, drove in three runs and scored three times to help No. 20 Southern New Hampshire University overcome a two-run deficit in game one and a five-run hole in game two to sweep Merrimack College in a Northeast-10 Conference softball doubleheader at the SNHU Softball Field on Saturday. The Penmen took the opener, 3-2, before claiming the finale by a score of 12-5.

Lavallee took the ball in game one and allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out eight. She provided three innings of shutout relief Saturday's second game, and improved to 7-2 on the season after punching out five and scattering four base hits. Offensively, Lavallee was 2-for-4 with a pair of walks, a three-run home run and three runs scored.

The lone blemish on Lavallee's afternoon came in the top half of the fourth inning in the lid lifter. After Alyssa Williamson reached on a fielder's choice, Haley Currie connected on a two-run shot to left to provide Merrimack with a 2-0 cushion.

The lead would be short-lived, however, as Southern New Hampshire responded with three runs in the home half of the frame. Lavallee started the rally with a single to centerfield before classmate Brittany Perdigao (Stoughton, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice. An error loaded the bases for junior Erin Morrissey (Commack, N.Y.), and she delivered a sharp single into right that cut the deficit in half. Sophomore Katie Horiuchi (Livingston, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to plate the tying run, and senior Mo Hannan (Scarborough, Maine) drove in the eventual game-winner with an RBI groundout.

Neither side was able to crack the scoreboard through the first three innings of game two, but the Warriors were able to break through with two runs in the fourth followed by three in the fifth. A bases loaded walk to Megan Cook in the fourth made it 1-0 before Samantha Waskowitz provided a sacrifice fly to double the visitors' advantage. After Merrimack loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth, Williamson and Brittany Razo collected back-to-back run-scoring singles to extend the lead to 4-0. Cook followed with an RBI fielder's choice, and the Warriors took a five-run lead into the bottom of fifth needing just nine outs to salvage the split.

The Penmen answered in their half of the fifth with a nine-run outburst that saw 15 batters come to the plate. Lavallee led off with a walk and junior Jessica Torsiello (Morris Plains, N.J.) reached with a base on balls of her own. Morrissey stepped in next and shot a base hit through the middle, and a Merrimack miscue allowed both runners to score. After Horiuchi drew the third free pass of the inning to put runners on first and second with nobody out, Hannan deposited a 1-1 offering over the wall in left to knot the score at five. Senior Lindsey Bolduc (Londonderry, N.H.) was the beneficiary of the second error of the inning before freshman Erin Garczynski (Norwood, Mass.) singled and left runners on the corners for senior Katie Caruso (Newton, Mass.). A sacrifice fly by Caruso brought in Bolduc, and a single coupled with two errors allowed Garczynski to cross the plate with the seventh run. Southern New Hampshire capped the scoring with an RBI single by Torsiello and a bases loaded walk to Horiuchi.

Lavallee turned in a shutdown inning in the top of the sixth before driving in three runs with one swing in the bottom of the inning. Garczynski and Caruso led off with back-to-back base hits, and two batters later, Lavallee crushed a 3-2 pitch up and out to right center to make it 12-5. She returned for the seventh and promptly struck out the side to complete the sweep.

Caruso, Garczynski and Morrissey each totaled three hits on Saturday, while Hannan drove in four runs. Junior Nicole Gubellini (Salem, N.H.) started game two and went four-plus innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits while striking out four. 

- The Penmen extended their overall winning streak to five games and their run of victories over Northeast Division opponents to 12 consecutive contests.
- In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Southern New Hampshire scored nine runs on five hits with five Merrimack errors and left three runners on base.
- With three hits in five trips to the plate, Caruso upped her league-leading batting average to .446. She also ranks fourth in the NE-10 in slugging-percentage (.625) and sixth in on-base percentage (.475).

What's Next:
The Penmen continue their nine-game homestand on Wednesday (March 30) with a Northeast-10 twinbill against Granite State rival Franklin Pierce University (5-10, 1-2 NE-10) slated to begin at 3 p.m.

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