Leopard Softball Sweeps Holy Cross to Start Patriot League Play
March 26, 2005
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Lafayette scratched out the game-winning run in its last at bat in both games to sweep Holy Cross in the Patriot League softball opener on Saturday afternoon at Pates Park.
In the seventh inning of the first game, Gianna Lopreato dropped a bunt in front of home plate and Jill Masterton raced home to score to give the Leopards a 7-6 win. In the nightcap, Masterton led off the eighth with a triple and trotted home with the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Kathryn Longshore in a 4-3 victory.
Megan Averbuch went the distance for Lafayette in the first game but was shaky in the first. Mary Beth Ryan got things started with a double and Jayme Elliott followed with a run-scoring single. After Elliott was thrown out stealing, Alycia Fitzpatrick singled, but Averbuch settled down to strike out the next two batters. The first three hitters in the Crusaders' lineup went 8-for-10 in the opener.
Kristen Ruckno led off with a single and scored on a double by Amy Levinson. Lopreato scored on a wild pitch, Levinson came home on an error by the catcher as Averbuch stole second base, and Averbuch padded the lead with alert baserunning after a passed ball.
A sacrifice fly by FitzPatrick gave Holy Cross a run in the fifth. With two outs in the seventh and a runner on first, the Crusaders rallied for four runs as FitzPatrick belted a two-run double. A throwing error by Averbuch allowed two more runners to score. A line drive back at the pitcher ended the inning.
Masterton, who went 5-for-7 on the day, started the seventh with a single and moved to second on a single by pinch hitter Erin Pawlak. Ruckno advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Lopreato's suicide squeeze bunt turned into a single and the game-winning run when Masterton sprinted across the plate.
Averbuch scattered 12 hits and struck out eight for the win. Michelle Greene got the start for Holy Cross and was relieved by Lindsay MacNeil and Sheena Stangler.
The second game was nearly as dramatic as the first. The Leopards (3-12, 2-0 PL) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Michelle Ellis led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice by Amy Gimma and scored on a base hit by Masterton. The sophomore shortstop stole second and came home on an error by the Crusaders' third baseman.
Junior Lauren Belowich held Holy Cross (4-8, 0-2 PL) scoreless through three frames before Kelly O'Neil followed a pair of singles with a two-base hit that scored Megan Lally. Stangler, who started the game for the Crusaders, was thrown out at home following a wild pitch for the final out of the inning as Lafayette preserved its 2-1 lead.
The Leopards got that run back in the bottom of the inning when Longshore and Ruckno put together back-to-back singles. Caitlyn Flynn pinch ran for the lead runner, stole third on a failed pick-off attempt, and scored on a base hit to left field by Lopreato.
Holy Cross tied the score at 3-3 in the top of the fifth. FitzPatrick followed a two-out hit by Elliott with an RBI double to right center, advanced to third on a wild pitch and came home on an infield single by Lally.
MacNeil went to the circle in the fifth and retired six straight Leopards after stranding a runner at third in her first inning of work. Nicole Dessingue started the eighth for Holy Cross with a double and MacNeil sacrificed her to third. Lafayette got out of trouble with two fine defensive plays - Gimma put away a foul pop-up at third for the second out, and a hard-hit ball by Heather Johnson caromed off Gimma but right to Masterton at short, who threw the runner out by a half-step for the final out.
Masterton pulled the ball into the left field corner to open the home half of the eighth and beat the throw to third to put the winning run 60 feet away. Longshore lifted a fly ball to right and Masterton slid around the catcher who was waiting on the throw for the winning run.
Lafayette swept a Patriot League doubleheader for the first time since April 13, 2001 when the Leopards posted 4-2 and 4-3 wins over Army.
The Leopards will hook up with Holy Cross for two more games tomorrow, starting at 1 p.m. at Pates Park in Allentown, Pa.