The Canisius softball team opened their season against the league favorite Monmouth Hawks over the weekend, stealing one game, but dropping the other three to fall to 1–3.
The opening weekend of MAAC play was an action-packed weekend, with teams across the league playing doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday. With four games in two days on the docket against almost every opponent this season, the 2021 softball season will be a grueling one for teams overall and especially for pitchers.
The two teams met for their first game at noon on Saturday, beginning the four-game series that would take place entirely at MU Softball Park in West Long Branch, N.J. The Griffs jumped out to an early lead in game one, with freshman Christie McGee-Ross crossing home plate to score the first run of Canisius’s season. The team found themselves up 3–0 to start the fourth inning, but Monmouth stormed back to tie the game at four following inning number five.
With each team unable to score again before seven innings expired, extra time was needed to complete the game. With the Hawks up to bat in the bottom of the ninth, a walk-off home run by Julia Thuer ended the first game.
Mere hours later, game two of the first doubleheader began with the Griffs taking another early lead. This time around, The Griffs held onto their lead and pulled ahead by four runs before the end of the fifth inning. In the sixth, the Griffs hit their stride, scoring seven runs and ending the game before even reaching the seventh inning.
In addition to the scoring prowess of the Canisius offense in this game, which featured two-RBI performances from both senior Morgan Altman and freshman Gianna Fazzolari, the Griffs’ defense was stout, holding Monmouth to zero runs and only two hits during the entire contest. Pitcher Emily Nicosia, who went the distance in the contest, struck out a career high 12 batters in the 11–0 victory. Nicosia, who would go on to appear in three of the four games over the weekend and pitch in 15.3 innings, recorded 25 strikeouts over the course of the series.
On day two, the Griffs dropped both contests in very close fashion, losing by one score in both games. In the first Sunday contest, Monmouth took a 2–0 lead by the end of the third inning, and despite senior Kara Paradowski scoring in the fourth inning, just one of her six scored runs in the series, the Griffs couldn’t tie the game late, and Monmouth squeaked away with a 2–1 victory.
The final game of the series was a higher scoring affair, and similarly to day one, Canisius jumped out to an early lead, up 5–0 after two innings. In the bottom of the second, Monmouth brought themselves right back into the game, thanks to a Tommi Stowers grand slam that was cranked into left field. The Hawks added another run on an RBI single from Erika Coreth to tie the game at five before the end of the inning.
Canisius rebounded, and took a one run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. With the bases loaded, a walk brought in the tying run, and final batter Katie Harrington was hit by a pitch to advance the runners, bringing the winning run home and winning the game.
Canisius has a week off this week, but will try to regroup the following weekend as they play another four-game series at Gaelic Park in Riverdale, N.Y., home of the Manhattan Jaspers.