STANDISH, ME - No. 3 seed Simmons Sharks (27-10, 17-5 GNAC) fell to Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (33-4, 20-2 GNAC), 4-1, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Softball Championship at Richard W. Bailey Field on Sunday evening.
The Sharks, who suffered a 5-3 loss at the hands of #6 Norwich University on Friday, made an impressive run to get into the title game, posting three-consecutive losers' bracket wins on Sunday before facing the Monks in the nightcap. The teams squared off for three scoreless innings, but Saint Joseph's snapped the string with a pair of runs off two hits in the fourth and added two more in the fifth.
After squandering a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the third, the Monks would finally get on the board one inning later, when freshman center fielder Carla Tripp and freshman shortstop Mariah Harrison rapped run-scoring singles. Junior Victoria Ramos, who reached on a fielder's choice, and Tripp scored, respectively, on the base hits by the freshman pair to lift the Royal Blue to a 2-0 lead.
Simmons cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth, when sophomore center fielder Heather White (Westfield, Mass.) launched a solo homer over the left field wall with two outs. The Monks responded immediately with a pair of runs off one hit in the top of the fifth. With junior hurler Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) replacing starter Amanda Cordeiro (Fall River, Mass.) in the circle, Theresa Hendrix and Melissa Mayhew both drew walks, setting the table for freshman catcher Jennifer Murphy, who doubled to deep left field to send her teammates across the plate and extend the SJC cushion to 4-1.
The Sharks threatened in the bottom of the sixth as Mikaela Caracciolo (North Attleboro, Mass.) singled through the left side and Alaina DeNoncour (Johnston, R.I.) singled to center field for runners on second and third with two out, but Rae-Marie Copan worked out of the tough spot on a tremendous defensive play. Facing junior designated player Jess Uschmann (Feeding Hills, Mass.), Copan induced a foul pop-up down the left field line. Hendrix sprinted near the fence to make a play and very nearly made the catch, but the ball popped off her glove into the air and was caught by Harrison, who also hustled to the vicinity, for the third out of the frame.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Backhaus walked to start a potential Simmons rally, but Copan was able to retire the final two batters - Emma D'Arpino (Johnston, R.I.) and Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) as both batters popped up to short, where Harrison made the final two outs to complete the game.
Junior left fielder Jen Field (Windham, Maine) was the lone repeat-hitter for the Sharks, having gone 2-2 in the setback. Cordeiro takes the loss after yielding two runs (one earned) off six hits and three walks while Backhaus gave up two runs off a hit and four walks in three innings of relief.
A total of 11 players from four teams earned All-Tournament honors, including University of Saint Joseph sophomores Patti Sciglimpaglia and Mary Sciglimpaglia, Johnson & Wales senior pitchers Tayla Gardner and Taylor Cwalinski, and Backhaus, Emily Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) and Caracciolo of Simmons. Copan, Murphy, Mayhew and Hendrix earned All-Tourney accolades for the Monks.