WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.-The Monmouth softball team faced off against Atlantic-10 Conference member La Salle on Tuesday afternoon. The Hawks won the games by scores of 7-0 and 4-3, moving the Hawks to 21-12 on the season. The Explorers are 13-18 on the season.
Senior Lauren Sulick (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) won game one with two hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. Sophomore Vanessa Cardoza (Santa Ana, Calif./Ocean View) went 2-3 with a two-RBI triple in game one. Junior Alicia DeSanto (Upper Darby, Pa./Upper Darby) went 1-2 with one run. Junior Shannon Fitzgerald (Santa Clarita, Calif./Valencia) went 1-2 with two runs in the contest.
In game one, the Hawks scored in the bottom of the third inning. Fitzgerald and senior Kayla Weiser (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) were walked. Weiser advanced to second on a passed ball, then moved to third on the throw. Fitzgerald moved to third and then home on the passed ball, giving Monmouth the 1-0 lead.
No further offense was generated until the fifth inning. Senior Kate Kuzma (Freehold, N.J./Colts Neck) reached first on a fielding error on the third baseman. Freshman Nikki Sandelier (Turnersville, N.J./Washington Township) pinch ran for Kuzma and advanced to second on a Fitzgerald single up the middle. A Weiser walk loaded the bases. A fielder's choice reach by senior Tish Derer (Philadelphia, Pa./Saint Basil Academy) scored Sandelier and gave Monmouth the 2-0 lead. A drawn walk by DeSanto pushed Fitzgerald home and gave the Hawks three runs.
Junior Kaitie Schumacher (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch) reached on a fielder's choice scored Weiser, giving the Hawks the 4-0 lead. Derer advanced to third but was thrown out at home. Cardoza delivered a two-out, two-run triple to right center and scored Schumacher and DeSanto. Sophomore Kayleena Flores (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony) doubled to right center and scored Cardoza. This gave the Hawks the 7-0 lead and the game one win.
Freshman Cerissa Rivera (Westminster, Calif./Fountain Valley) won game two and Sulick came in with the save late in the seventh inning. Rivera had six strikeouts and two walks. Fitzgerald and Cardoza both went 1-3 in the game. Fitzgerald scored one run and Cardoza had two RBI.
In the third inning, DeSanto walked and Schumacher reached on a fielding error by the third baseman. Senior Christine Scherr (Nazareth, Pa./Nazareth Area) grounded out to third, but sent DeSanto to third and Schumacher to secnod. A Cardoza single up the middle scored DeSanto and Schumacher, giving the Hawks the 2-0 lead before the inning ended.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fitzgerald doubled and Weiser was walked. A sacrifice bunt by Derer pushed Fitzgerald to third and Weiser to second. DeSanto reached on a fielding error by the short stop, scoring Fitzgerald, moving Weiser to third, and giving Monmouth the 3-0 lead. Schumacher reached first on a fielder's choice and scored Weiser, giving Monmouth the 4-0 lead.
Rivera maintained the shutout until the seventh inning. A leadoff hit-by-pitch to Casey Lester followed by a Liz Reed double put runners in scoring position with no outs. Kristen Travers singled to second base, then Megan Hodgson singled up the middle. This scored Lester and put La Salle on the board for the first time between the two games. The next at-bat, Alyssa Sims reached first on a fielder's choice, and Hodgson moved to third.
Travers was called out at second, and Reed scored on a throwing error by the catcher to first, giving the Explorers two runs in the inning. Tristan Musho then singled to right field and scored Hodgson, giving La Salle the 4-3 deficit and a chance to tie the game. Sulick came in relief for Rivera and pitched the Hawks out of the inning, maintaining the lead and ultimately the win.
Monmouth is slated for another non-conference matchup against Villanova on Saturday, April 13 in Radnor Township, Pa. at noon before returning home to face the top-ranked Northeast Conference team, the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils on Sunday, April 14 at noon.