STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (16-6, 7-3 GNAC) swept Rivier College (12-6, 4-4 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) doubleheader at the newly-dedicated Richard W. Bailey Field on Saturday afternoon. The Monks defeated the Raiders, 5-4, in eight innings in the opener and capped the sweep with a 6-2 triumph in the nightcap.
A field dedication ceremony was held in honor of Monks former Head Coach Dick Bailey prior to the first game of the afternoon. Coach Bailey guided the Royal Blue for 16 seasons and currently serves as an assistant on the softball coaching staff. In 11 highly successful seasons at the helm for St. Joe's, Coach Bailey amassed 244 wins (a program record upon his departure in 1995), six conference crowns, four New England Championships and an NAIA National Tournament appearance in 1994.
The field, formerly known as the "Softball field at Ward Park," now features a brand new inning-by-inning scoreboard with a header featuring the Monks and NCAA logos and the text "Richard W. Bailey Field at Saint Joseph's College." The new field designation can also be found in bold, capital letters above the Monks' home dugout on the third base side of the diamond.
Coach Bailey went on to lead the Colby College softball program for 13 seasons and guided the Mules to a 197-177-1 record. In 25 years of coaching, Bailey accumulated a 443-296-1 record with a corresponding .599 winning percentage. Bailey, hired as Dean of Students at Saint Joseph's in 1979 after having served 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, was inducted into the Saint Joseph's College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
The first-ever game played on Bailey Field did not start well for the hosts as the Raiders scored twice in their first turn to take an early 2-0 lead. SJC starting pitcher Maddie Kluna '12 (Standish, ME) fanned the first Rivier hitter, center fielder Nicole Peacock '14 (Warwick, RI), but the following batter, shortstop Catherine Roy '14 (Dracut, MA) singled and the Raiders' third hitter, first baseman Marissa Mercier '13 (N. Smithfield, RI) belted a two-run jack over the left field wall to put the Monks in a 2-0 hole.
St. Joe's cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the first when SJC right fielder Danyelle Shufelt '13 (Sutton, VT) led off with a double to center and scored on a groundout by center fielder Emily Leverone '11 (Hampton, NH).
Kluna kept the ball in the infield and retired the side in order in the top of the second and the Monks fed off the momentum by scoring two runs in the bottom of the frame. Third baseman Heather Tripp '13 (Lovell, ME) and shortstop Lindsay Moore '14 (Barrington, NH) both singled to left field to start the inning. Catcher Maria Labbe '12 (Lewiston, ME) moved her teammates up a bag with a sac bunt and left fielder Katelyn Call '12 (Portland, ME/McAuley) knotted the game at two-apiece with a base knock, scoring Tripp, to left. The Monks enjoyed their first lead of the day after Shufelt plated Moore with a fielder's choice.
Kluna held the Raiders without a hit for five straight frames after the visitors scored twice off two hits in the first inning, but the junior captain's effort hit a snag in the top of the seventh when Rivier knotted the contest at three-apiece. Right fielder Myranda Knight '14 (Anson, ME) came up with the clutch hit –a two-out double to plate second baseman Karen Waterman '11 (Rutland, VT) – to make it a fresh game heading into the bottom of the inning.
St. Joe's had the go-ahead run on second with one out in the seventh but Rivier starting pitcher Hillary Tarr '14 (North Easton, MA) avoided trouble, albeit momentarily, by inducing a pair of harmless fly outs and the game between the perennial GNAC contenders was headed for extra play.
The Raiders struck first with a run in the top of the eighth inning. In accordance with international tiebreaker rules, a runner – the last out of the previous inning, in this case Peacock – was placed on second base. Roy moved her teammate to third with a sac bunt and catcher Amanda Ryan '11 (W. Bridgewater, MA) knocked in the go-ahead run with a single.
Needing one run to tie and two to win, the Monks managed to kick off a new era at Bailey Field in thrilling fashion by choosing the latter. Tripp began the bottom of the eighth on second and moved to third on a bunt single by Moore, who scampered to second on a Labbe groundout. Call grounded out and Shufelt reached on a free pass to set the stage for second baseman Connie Grovo '14 (Limington, ME), who registered a two-out single to plate both Tripp and Moore and lift the Monks to a memorable 5-4 win.
For the Monks, Tripp was 2-4 with two runs, Moore went 2-3 with two runs, Howard notched two hits in three trips, and Grovo drove home a pair with two hits in five at bats. Kluna improves to 7-2 on the year after striking out eight and allowing four runs off four hits and three walks in eight innings.
Tarr fanned three with five runs (four earned) allowed off 11 hits and four walks in 7.2 innings. The Raiders did not have a repeat hitter in the opener.
The nightcap contest was not nearly as nerve-wracking as the Monks scored twice in the opening frame and never trailed. Shufelt opened the tilt with an infield single, promptly stole second, moved to third on a Grovo infield hit, and scored when Leverone singled to left field. Grovo sprinted home on a wild pitch to make it a 2-0 game after one inning.
The Raiders plated a run in the top of the fifth to cut the Monks' advantage down to one run as Peacock led off the frame with a double down the left field line and scored on a Roy base knock.
The visitors would get no closer to the lead, however, as Saint Joseph's scored four runs off three hits and three Rivier errors in the bottom of the fifth to essentially put the game out of reach. Dunn, Moore and Cynthia Wescott '12 (Westbrook, ME) registered an RBI apiece and pinch runner Aimee Bradbury '13 (Hollis, ME) scored on a wild pitch to make it a 6-1 contest through five frames.
The Raiders cut their deficit down to four runs when Dyer drove in a run with a single with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but SJC starting pitcher Rae-Marie Copan '14 (Newton, MA) settled in and retired the next five batters to close out the game.
For St. Joe's, Howard was 3-3, Grovo went 2-4 with a run scored, and Dunn posted a 2-4 day with a double and an RBI. Copan improved to 3-2 on the season after fanning three and allowing two runs off eight hits and two walks in a complete game effort.
For Rivier, Roy was 2-4 with an RBI and starting pitcher Lauren Beatty '14 (Sherman, CT) allowed six runs (three earned) off 10 hits and two walks with three K's in six frames.
Saint Joseph's Head Coach Jamie Smyth '92, now in his 14th season as the Monks' skipper, recorded his 300th career victory with the game-one triumph. Smyth, now 301-232 (.565) in his career, is the winningest coach in SJC softball history and just the fourth head coach in St. Joe's athletics history to reach the 300-win plateau.
Both teams will play conference doubleheaders on the road tomorrow afternoon. Saint Joseph's will play at Johnson & Wales at 1:00 PM, while Rivier travels to St. Joseph (CT) for a 12:00 PM start.