NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Jill Freese (Oxford, Pa./Oxford Area), Kayleena Flores (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony) and Rachel Shotzbarger (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) had three hits each as the Monmouth University softball team split its MAAC doubleheader at Iona Saturday afternoon. With the split, the Hawks move to 10-13 (2-2 MAAC), while the Gaels are now 11-18 (5-3 MAAC).
Justene Reyes (Carson, Calif./Warren) added two hits, including a double, and three RBI’s, while Shannon Fitzgerald (Santa Clarita, Calif./Valencia) also had two hits, including a double, and three runs scored. Vanessa Cardoza (Santa Ana, Calif./Ocean View) chipped in with two hits, a run scored and an RBI, while Alicia DeSanto (Upper Darby, Pa./Upper Darby) had a hit and two runs scored. Sydney Underhill (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) pitched 10.2 innings, earning the Game 2 victory. She allowed 12 runs, though only five were earned, on 10 hits and seven walks. She struck out five.
The Hawks took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning in Game 1. Fitzgerald led off with a double and scored on an errant throw after DeSanto dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt. DeSanto scored later in the inning on another Gaels error.
Iona erupted for a 10-run fourth inning. All 10 runs were unearned. Underhill got the first two batters out before issuing a walk. An error on the infield prolonged the inning, before another error allowed the first run to score. Consecutive runs then scored on walks, before Allison Hand’s single scored two to push the lead to 5-2. Breanna Sniffen (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange [St. Petersburg College]) replaced Underhill in the circle, but was greeted rudely by an Ashlyn Morris RBI double and, following a walk, Kristen Turner’s grand slam to stake Iona to a 10-2 lead.
The Hawks got one run back in the top of the fifth. Fitzgerald singled and took second on an error. She then took third on a wild pitch and scored on Cardoza’s RBI single to left. But the Gaels ended the game the next half inning on Sarah Schutz’s RBI single to right center.
The Hawks posted a five-run third inning in Game 2. Freese singled, Fitzgerald was hit by a pitch and DeSanto singled to load the bases with one out. Following a fielder’s choice for the second out, Reyes cleared the bases with a double to right center. Shotzbarger drove in Reyes with a ground-rule double and scored on a Flores single up the middle to cap the five-run outburst.
Iona gradually whittled away at the lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings. Two singles, a walk and a wild pitch accounted for the first run, before a run-scoring groundout plated the Gaels’ second run.
Monmouth gave itself one more insurance run in the top of the sixth. Flores and Kaitie Schumacher (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch) led off the inning with consecutive singles, before Flores swiped third to put runners on the corners. Freese then singled to right to make it 6-2 Hawks.
Monmouth would need the insurance tally as the Gaels scored three in the bottom of the sixth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before the first run scored on a wild pitch. A pair of two-out singles cut the lead to 6-5. But Underhill got a groundout to end the sixth and worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to preserve the victory.
The Hawks return to MAAC action Sunday when they travel to Fairfield. First pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m.