Softball Sweeps Monmouth In NEC Doubleheader

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - In two games exceeding the three-hour mark, the Quinnipiac University softball team swept the conference's top team, Monmouth University, this afternoon in an Northeast Conference doubleheader. Senior Heather Maffeo (Milford, Mass.) drove in the game-winning run in game two, where the Bobcats collected a 4-3 victory in extra innings. The team also recorded a 14-11 victory in game one. Sophomore RHP Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) matched the Quinnipiac single-season strikeout record (206 K's) she set last season, as she struck out ten batters on the day. With the wins, the Bobcats' record improves to 20-19 overall with a 7-3 record in NEC action.

Monmouth started the bevy of scoring in game one as they took a 4-0 lead over the Bobcats in the bottom of the second inning. The Hawks loaded the bases with the first three batters of the inning with back-to-back singles and a walk. Freshman Christine Scherr stepped to the plate in the following play and doubled into right centerfield to drive in the first two runs of the inning. A groundout and a single up the middle brought the next two runs around to score to conclude the inning.

The Bobcats responded with six runs of their own in the top of the third, taking a two-run lead. Maffeo and freshman Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) led the effort in the third, as they each tallied two RBI in the inning. Emily Bellush (Newton, Mass.) and Kim Brzezinski (Tinley Park, Ill.) also drove in an RBI apiece in the four-hit inning for Quinnipiac.

Seven runs crossed the plate for Monmouth in the bottom of the third to record an 11-6 lead. After the Bobcats recorded two outs in the inning, the Hawks offense was rejuvenated by an Emily DeLong grand slam to center field. Dara Palms and Alexa Ferrara combined to drive in the remaining three runs of the inning to extend their lead to five runs over Quinnipiac.

Senior third baseman Kelly Wall (Westport, Conn.) continued her clutch presence from the plate, as she helped the Bobcats tie the game in the top of the fourth. After two runs crossed earlier in the inning, Wall stepped to the plate with runners at second and third. The senior smacked her team-leading fourth homer of the year into left field to tie the score at 11-11.

Sophomore RHP Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) came in for relief midway through the third inning and allowed no hits for the remainder of the first game. The Bobcats' offense continued through the top of the fifth inning with senior Katie Allendorfer (Glenside, Pa.) driving in the game-winning run with a single into left field. Two more runs crossed in the game for Quinnipiac with sophomore Alex Murray (Milford, Mass.) and Maffeo coming around to boost the Bobcats lead to 14-11.

Bellush got the start from the circle for Quinnipiac, pitching 2.2 innings and earning eight of the 11 runs scored in game one. Schwartzburg struck out seven in the victory, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing no runs with two walks.

Similar to game one, Monmouth got an early lead on the Bobcats in the second match-up of the day. The Hawks crossed one run across the plate in the bottom of the second, as freshman Kate Kuzma doubled to right center which allowed Palms to score from first. Ferrara tallied a two-run double in the bottom of the third to boost Monmouth's lead to 3-0.

Quinnipiac responded with a two-run inning in the top of the fourth as Alba and Brzezinski tallied back-to-back singles to open the stanza. Maffeo picked up two more RBI on the day later in the inning when she singled up the middle to score the runners from second and third.

Freshman Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.) came in to score the game-tying run in the top of the seventh. After singling up the middle to open the inning, the freshman stole second and was advanced to third on a single by Brzezinski. With the bases loaded, Salgado came in on a walk to tie the game at three.

The two teams battled through a scoreless eighth inning before the Bobcats came to bat in the top of the ninth. Brzezinski sparked the offensive effort with a double into left field in the second at-bat of the inning. Wall singled to shortstop in the next play to move Brzezinski to third, before Maffeo came to the plate and singled through the left side to score the game-winner. Maffeo finished the day with four hits and five RBI against the Hawks.

Schwartzburg pitched the complete nine-inning effort for Quinnipiac, earning three runs and striking out three. Her ten strikeouts on the day boosted her season total to 206 K's, which matches the single-season strikeout record she set last year as a rookie. Schwartzburg now has 14 wins on the year after earning both victories this afternoon.

The Bobcats return to action tomorrow afternoon when they travel to Emmitsburg, Md. to face off against Mount St. Mary's University. The Bobcats' second NEC twinbill of the weekend is set to start at 12 p.m.