HAMDEN, Conn. – Fairleigh Dickinson learned the hard way what could happen if they loaded the bases intentionally with sophomore Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) coming to the plate as she crushed a walk-off grand slam in the eighth to help the Quinnipiac softball team salvage a split against Fairleigh Dickinson, 7-1 loss in game one and 4-0 win in game two. It was the Bobcats' second walk-off grand slam in two weeks as Alex Alba also went deep to for Quinnipiac in a win over Mount St. Mary's. Quinnipiac continues to hold onto the fourth spot in the NEC standings as they now stand 15-27 (8-4 NEC) while the Knights are now 18-17 (7-7 NEC).
Paolucci, the NEC's leader in home runs and RBI, took the Knights' starter Samantha Lemm deep after she had been locked in a pitching battle with the Bobcats' sophomore Hannah Lindsley (Narragansett, R.I.) all afternoon. Both went seven full innings without allowing a run and the duel went into the eighth where Lindsley once again shut down the Knights' hitters while the Bobcat hitters finally got to Lemm. Freshman Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa.) slugged her second career triple over the center fielder's head, all the way to the fence to begin the inning. The Knights then were forced to walk the next two batters and bring up Paolucci with the bases loaded and no one out. The sophomore slugger was in an early 0-2 hole but fouled off a pitch and then took the Lemm offering opposite field and over the right center field fence much to the delight of her teammates who swarmed her at home plate.
The grand slam was the 11th homer of the season for Paolucci and now gives her 40 RBI, which both lead the NEC in their respective categories. Lindsley put together her most dominate outing of the season since her first start back in Feb. where she twirled a two-hit complete game shutout against Drexel. Her outing against the Knights had her going the full eight innings, allowing just three hits and three walks with four strikeouts as just two runners reached second base all afternoon against the Bobcats' righty.
In a fast-paced game played throughout, the two sides mustered very little offense in the second game as the Bobcats didn't record a hit until senior Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) singled in the top of the fourth. She advanced to second on a groundout but Lemm shutdown the rest of the Bobcat hitters to keep the game scoreless.
The action suddenly picked up in the bottom of the seventh where freshman Dani Edmands (Northborough, Mass.) singled to lead off the inning followed by an intentional walk to senior Bridget Figmic (Stratford, Conn.) after a passed ball allowed Edmands to advance to second. Senior Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, Conn.) laid down a perfect bunt to put two runners in scoring position. Sophomore Brittney Cyr (Southington, Conn.) was also intentionally walked to load the bases for senior Lauren Salgado (Covina, Calif.). She worked the count full and then hit a rope to center that was caught by the outfielder and the throw down to second was in time to double off the Bobcats and end the prime opportunity.
The Knights had their opportunity in the eighth where Maire Shaughnessy hit a leadoff single but then three straight outs from Lindsley once again quieted the Fairleigh Dickinson bench.
The bottom of the eighth was Paolucci's time to shine as Solt's leadoff triple made everything happen. With no one out, the Knights loaded the bases intentionally to create a force out at every bag. After two quick strikes on Paolucci it seemed the plan was working but that quickly was put to bed after she crushed Lemm's pitched up and out for the walk-off grand slam.
The first game of the afternoon was dominated by the Knights and their top pitcher Loren Stavrou. She tossed a complete game five-hitter with five strikeouts and one unearned run allowed to pick up the victory. Quinnipiac's freshman Sydney Robey (Glenmoore, Pa.) was plagued by four Bobcat fielding errors and a couple home runs as she allowed just three earned runs in her six innings of work. Junior Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) entered in the seventh and made quick work of the Knight's hitters with two strikeouts.
The game began with a five-run first for Fairleigh Dickinson to put the Bobcats in an immediate hole against one of the top pitchers in the conference. Mikayla Fernandez highlighted the inning with a two-run jack to deep center field that made it 3-0. Two more runs would come in on errors as Quinnipiac was in an early 5-0 hole.
The first and only run for the Bobcats came across in the third inning as Solt singled and advanced to second on an error from the left fielder. She moved to third on a passed ball and Salgado worked a walk to give Quinnipiac runners on first and third. Some nice base running from Salgado forced a throw down to second on her steal attempt. She slid in safely while Solt scored easily from third on the play.
Fairleigh Dickinson responded quickly with a run of their own in the fourth and would add one more insurance run in the seventh on a leadoff homer from Courtney Slye.
The Bobcats earned a much-needed split as they remain one game ahead of LIU Brooklyn in the NEC standings with eight conference games still to play. The first two come next Saturday at Bryant followed by a pair against Central Conn. St. at home for Senior Day starting at Noon from QU Softball Field.
Contact: Maxx McNall; email@example.com