STANDISH, ME - #2 Saint Joseph's College (31-7, 14-2 GNAC) defeated #3 Simmons College (24-15, 19-7 GNAC), 6-0, in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Softball Tournament action at Richard W. Bailey Field on Friday afternoon.
With the victory the Monks head into the winner's bracket and will face top-seeded Emerson College (31-7, 24-2 GNAC) at 2:00 PM on Saturday at Gordon College. The Sharks will play #4 Johnson & Wales (26-15, 19-7 GNAC), which fell to #8 Saint Joseph (Conn.) (19-22, 12-14 GNAC), 2-0, on Friday, at 12:00 PM on Saturday.
Bailey Field was the site of two GNAC Quarterfinal tilts, as Simmons scored the game's only run in the bottom of the sixth to edge #6 Norwich University (21-15, 15-11 GNAC) in the opening contest. With one out in the sixth, sophomore Christina Mulcahey (Cambridge, Mass.) plated Emily Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) with a single to break the scoreless deadlock and capture the win.
Simmons starting pitcher Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) earned the victory for the Sharks, fanning 13 batters while scattering eight hits and a walk in a complete-game effort. Norwich hurler Corinne Baita (Rochester, N.H.) was hit with the loss after allowing one run off five hits and three walks with seven K's.
The Sharks could not celebrate the tourney triumph for long however, as Simmons was set to face the defending GNAC Champion Monks were on deck for a 4:00 PM quarterfinal contest just 30 minutes later.
The tournament nightcap looked to be another pitcher's duel in the early going. SJC senior starter Maddie Kluna (Standish, Maine) fanned five batters over the first two frames and Simmons pitcher Amanda Cordeiro (Fall River, Mass.) escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the first inning and struck out a pair in the second.
But the pitching battle quickly turned into a one-sided affair as sophomore second baseman Connie Grovo (Limington, Maine) and senior center fielder Emily Leverone (Hampton, N.H.) opened the bottom of the third with back to back home runs and sophomore shortstop Lindsay Moore (Barrington, N.H.), who walked and stole second, scored on a Theresa Hendrix (Scarborough, Maine/Cheverus) double to make it a 3-0 contest through three full frames.
With Kluna on cruise control, the Monks proceeded to tack on single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to account for the 6-0 final. Right fielder Danyelle Shufelt (Sutton, Vt.) walked and scored on a Leverone base knock in the fourth, Hendrix doubled again and sprinted home on a Kluna two-bagger in the fifth, and junior pinch runner Kirin Schrum (Littleton, N.H.) touched the plate when Moore tripled to right-center in the sixth.
The timing was perfect for Kluna to turn in her best pitching performance of the season, as the senior yielded just three hits and a walk and tied a career-high with 13 K's in the triumph. Cordeiro, who allowed five runs off eight hits and four walks while fanning four, suffered the loss.
Leverone led the SJC offensive effort by going 2-4 with a run, two RBI and a home run while Hendrix turned in a 2-4 performance with a run, two doubles, and an RBI on the afternoon.
Simmons second baseman Cailin Pagel (Dorchester, Mass.) tallied two of the Sharks' three hits in a losing effort.