Chestnut Hill College freshman shortstop Nicole Carney looks toward first base as she plucks a ground ball out of the dirt in the infield. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After dropping the first game of last Saturday’s softball doubleheader to Post University, 8-2, host Chestnut Hill College earned three one-run leads in the second game and made the last of them hold up for a 3-2 victory.

The outcome of the second contest snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Griffins, and raised their record to 9-23 overall and 6-16 within the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. The Post Eagles headed back to Waterbury, Conn. with a 8-17 mark in the CACC, and were 15-27 against all opponents.

Rebuilding under the guidance of second-year mentor John Kelly, former head coach at Philadelphia University, the Griffins start six freshmen in the field while a seventh rookie serves as the flex player or designated hitter.

Before the action commenced last Saturday, Chestnut Hill held a Senior Day ceremony honoring three departing upperclassmen, Cassie Benson, Mandi Rush, and Veronica Wilenta. Rush would pitch all seven innings in the second game, striking out two batters while not giving up any walks or earned runs.

In the opening game, the hosts committed two of their three total errors in the first inning. This helped lead to three runs crossing the plate for Post, including the game-winner. The Griffins got close in the bottom of the second (2-3), when freshman second baseman Julie Heaton led off with a single to left field, and then came along for the ride when classmate Allie Williams (first base) targeted the same section of the outfield for a two-run home run.

Next time up, the Eagles bumped their margin up to two runs, 4-2, and they effectively put the game out of reach at the top of the sixth with a grand slam to centerfield. Post outhit CHC 12-5 and played error-free defense behind winning hurler Ashley Cummi (4K, 1BB, 2ER). Taking the loss for Chestnut Hill was freshman Courtney Dayter (6K, 1BB, 2ER), who CHC Softballback in March pitched the first no-hitter in the history of the CHC softball program.

As mentioned, Rush was the winning pitcher for the Griffins in Saturday’s second game, while the loss was hung on Post’s Johanna Rice (7K, 0BB). The Griffins made four errors in the field that resulted in two unearned runs, but they outhit the Eagles 9-7. They earned all three of their runs in the game as Post played error-free defense.

Leading off for CHC in the bottom of the first, junior left fielder Sarah Mattaliano homered over the head of her Post counterpart. The home team’s slim advantage held up until the top of the fourth, when Post started out with a ground-rule double that burrowed under the plastic fencing in left field. An error and a sacrifice ground-out got the lead runner home for a 1-1 tie.

Chestnut Hill inched ahead again at the bottom of the inning, beginning with base hits by Williams and Rush. After one out, Wilenta singled to right field to fill the bags, and a single dropped into shallow left field by freshman third baseman Emily Soller secured the second run of the day for the Griffins.

Chestnut Hill’s 2-1 edge endured through the fifth frame, but Post pulled even again in the top of the sixth. After another ground-rule double, the runner reached third on a sacrifice fly deep to centerfield, then a throwing error helped lead to an unearned Eagles run to make it 2-2.

The CHC players persevered at the plate, acquiring the lead for good in the last of the sixth. After a fly to right field for the first out, the Griffins got everything they could wish for out of a number nine hitter, as Soller earned her second RBI of the game with a solo shot over the fence in left field a few yards inside the line. The ball followed a fairly flat trajectory, and while it wasn’t a bullet, it was strong enough to clear the barrier, putting the 3-2 final score on the board.

Next, Chestnut Hill fans held their breath hoping for another solo homer, but right up against the fence, Post centerfielder Jackie Bonam caught a high, arcing ball hit by CHC’s lead-off batter, Mattaliano. A ground-out retired the side, and at the top of the seventh the Griffins set about trying to preserve a one-run lead, something they’d been unable to accomplish twice before in the game.

After a ground-out and a fly ball for the first two outs, the Eagles had a glimmer of hope thanks to a single through the left side of the infield. The next batter stroked the ball to the other side, where Heaton, the second baseman, scooped it up and underhanded it to first for the final out of the afternoon.