In the closing game of the conference series against Mount St. Mary's, the Merrimack softball team worked a pair of back-to-back offensive innings before the defense locked in for a 5-4 win on Monday afternoon.
Score: Merrimack 5, Mount St. Mary's 4
Records: Merrimack Warriors (6-6, 2-1 NEC) | Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (7-14, 1-2 NEC)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
For the third straight game, the Mountaineers earned a lead in the first inning. A leadoff double was moved to third on a bunt single, with the runner at first working to steal second. With two in scoring position the visitors held patient at the plate for a walk to load the bases. A bobbled ball at short brought in the first run, with a passed ball brought in the second and advancing the runners over. Merrimack's defense worked a fielder's choice on a grounder to third to catch the Mount at home to keep the inning to a two run gap.
The top of the Warriors lineup continued their potent at bats in the bottom of the first. Courtney Lanpher singled to right, with Sarah Reisler outrunning a ground ball to third to put runners on the corners. A grounder to first advanced the runners into scoring position, with Jenna Wike working a walk to load the bases. The bases stayed juiced as Lanpher was tagged out at home on a relay throw to second.
Pitcher Madie Fornwalt stepped to the plate and sent a single to left to score Reisler, before an error at first base allowed Wike to score and kept runners on at the corners in a tie game. Fornwalt worked the first of four stolen bases on the day before a pop out to third ended the inning.
Merrimack boosted its lead in the second inning, with catcher Nicole Basil popping a single to center to get aboard for the top of the lineup. Courtney Lanpher reached on the force out at second before swiping the bag to keep a runner in scoring position. Reisler added her second single of the day, bringing in a quick Lanpher for the third run of the day.
Reisler capitalized on her speed on the base paths, stealing second and scoring on a missed play at first on a short ball back to the pitcher to come in to score. Jenna Wike continued with a power bat, sending a double to right field to score Ellen Hubbard and put up the fifth run of the game for the Warriors.
The Mountaineers tried to launch a comeback in the top of the fourth, as a two-run home run put a single tally difference between the two squads.
In the bottom of the inning, the Warriors worked back-to-back walks by Lanpher and Shimkus. Wike reached on a fielder's choice, with Reisler tagged advancing to second for runners on the corners with two outs. Wike stole second and was pinch ran for by Sydney Emerson, but runners were left on with a high out to center.
Katelyn Thompson came in to pitch for the Warriors in the top of the sixth, working a key strikeout to end the inning with a runner at third. Offensively, Merrimack got two on base in the bottom of the fifth as Jordyn Montoya came in to pinch hit and reached on an error at third before Nicole Basil punched a single to get on base before the charge was halted with a ground out.
Mount again tried to pressure in the sixth with a single and stolen base followed by a walk putting two on and two out, but Merrimack's defense stepped up to get the short out at third to close out the inning. Thompson continued to work in the seventh, forcing two fly outs and a ball in the dirt at second to close out the game for the Warriors.