SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – The Marist Softball team earned a hard-fought doubleheader split on Saturday afternoon at Seton Hall in its final tune-up before MAAC play begins on Sunday. After a dramatic 5-4 extra-inning setback in Game One, the Red Foxes came back and held on for the victory in the nightcap by a 4-3 score.
Junior Alyssa Zahka (Lexington, Mass.) highlighted Marist’s offensive production on the afternoon as she blasted home runs in each game; a solo long ball in Game One and two-run shot in Game Two. For the day, she went 3-8 with three RBIs and two walks. Freshmen Maureen Duddy (San Mateo, Calif.) and Nicole Cheek (Simi Valley, Calif.) each finished the doubleheader with three hits and two runs scored, respectively. Cheek added two RBIs in Game Two to augment her totals.
In the circle, Marist received solid outings from its sophomore duo of Melanie White (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Janine Lalli (Eastchester, N.Y.). White was the hard-luck loser in Game One as she finished with a career-high nine strikeouts in 9.1 innings pitched, while allowing five runs (three earned) and nine hits. In Game Two, Lalli threw a complete game, as well, going 7.0 innings and striking out five strikeouts, while allowing three earned runs on eight hits.
GAME ONE, SETON HALL 5 – MARIST 4 (F/10):
In the first game of the doubleheader, it took a while for both teams’ offenses to get a run on the scoreboard as Seton Hall stifled threatening chances by Marist in the first, third and fifth innings when the Red Foxes had runners in scoring position.
Finally in the top of the sixth inning, Zahka lead off the frame by taking a Danielle Destaso offering for a ride with her third home run of the season.
In the bottom of the inning the Pirates responded by stringing together two hits and an error to plate the game-tying run.
White continued pacing the Red Foxes in the circle, as she’d retired Seton Hall with scoreless frames for each of the next three at bats for the hosts.
With each pitcher working into the 125 to 150 range of pitches thrown, the offenses finally found a situation in which they could string together multiple hits and break the 1-1 deadlock.
Marist was up first with a three-run top of the 10th inning. Doubles by the Red Foxes’ freshman trio of Duddy, Cheek and Kyrsten Van Natta (Maplewood, N.J.) spearheaded the scoring effort as Cheek’s extra-base hit to left-center field drove in two runs, while Van Natta plated one run.
With the score 4-1 and defeat three outs away, the Pirates responded in the bottom of the 10th with four runs, including the game-winning score coming in off of a Colltey Sheldon RBI single.
For the game, Duddy led all hitters with a 3-3 showing from the leadoff position.
Both teams had nine hits in the contest.
GAME TWO, MARIST 4 – SETON HALL 3:
30 minutes after playing a 10-inning game for over three-plus hours, the offense was slow to build again in Game Two, as the scoreboard showed 0-0 until the top of the fourth inning.
The Red Foxes would quickly score as Cheek lead off the fourth with a single through the right side of the infield. Two pitches later, Zahka would connect for her second home run of the day with a drive out over the right-center field wall.
Down 2-0, Seton Hall responded in the bottom of the fourth a single run coming in off of the bat of Sheldon.
The punch-for-punch style of play continued in the next inning when the Red Foxes plated two. Starting pitcher Janine Lalli, who was hitting in the nine-hole, led off the top of the fifth with a six-pitch walk. Lalli and Duddy would eventually come around to score when Cheek singled through the left side of the infield.
With a 4-1 lead, Lalli and the Red Foxes would be threatened by the Pirates in each of their final three innings, but hold on for the 4-3 victory. A key play in the seventh inning involved a Maria DeLuca ground ball to Cheek at second base; without hesitation the freshman fired home to nab the Seton Hall base-runner in a force out. Marist allowed just one run after seeing Seton Hall load the bases with one out.
For the game, Cheek, Zahka, Lalli and Danielle Koltz (Chenango Bridge, N.Y.) all registered two hits. As a team, Marist outhit Seton Hall, 9-8.
The Red Foxes will kick off MAAC action on Sunday with their first game of the 2013 season at home. Marist welcomes the MAAC preseason number one team Fairfield, for a doubleheader at Gartland Park; first pitch of Game One it scheduled for a 1 p.m.