SOFTBALL CLINCHES MAAC BERTH WITH SPLIT AGAINST RIDER
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University softball freshman pitcher Sydney Underhill (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) shut out Rider in Game 1 as the Hawks and Broncs split their Hourglass Rivalry Series doubleheader Saturday afternoon at MU Softball Park. With the split, the Hawks move to 19-19 (10-8 MAAC) and clinched a berth in the MAAC Championships, beginning Wednesday at Fairfield University. The Broncs record moved to 6-39 (4-14 MAAC) with the split.
Justene Reyes (Carson, Calif./Warren) went 4-for-7 on the day with a double and an RBI, while Nikki Sandelier (Turnersville, N.J./Washington Township) added a 3-for-5 effort with two runs scored. Alicia DeSanto (Upper Darby, Pa./Upper Darby) and Jill Freese (Oxford, Pa./Oxford Area) each went 2-for-5 with two RBI’s. DeSanto also scored two runs.
Kayleena Flores (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony) chipped in with a triple and two runs scored. Underhill pitched all 14 innings for the Hawks, allowing six runs, five earned, on 14 hits and five walks. She struck out 10. In the Game 1 shutout, she allowed just three hits and two walks, while striking out six.
After four scoreless frames in Game 1, the Hawks pushed across four runs in the 5th. Raelynn Galindo (Yorba Linda, Calif./Yorba Linda) led off with a single, before Sandelier walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Shannon Fitzgerald (Santa Clarita, Calif./Valencia) batted for a 13-pitch walk to load the bases, before DeSanto took the next pitch up the middle to score two. Vanessa Cardoza’s (Santa Ana, Calif./Ocean View) groundout scored the third Monmouth run, before Reyes singled with two outs to make it a four-run frame.
The Hawks added another insurance run in the 6th, when Flores tripled down the right field line to lead off the inning, and scored on Galindo’s groundout. The support would be more than enough for Underhill, who closed out the victory in the circle.
Rider began Game 2 with four-straight hits, the last of which was a two-run single by Dana Sensi to give the Broncs a 2-0 lead. Rider tacked on a third run in the 2nd on another RBI single by Sensi. The Hawks battled back with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd. Shotzbarger walked with one out and took second on a dropped catch error at second base on a fielder’s choice. After both runners advanced on a Galindo groundout, Freese singled through the left side to score two, making it a 3-2 game.
Following two scoreless frames, the Hawks took a 5-3 lead with a three-run 5th inning. Freese led off with a single and Sandelier followed with an infield single. Pinch runner Lauren Howard (Orange, Calif./Foothill) took third on a passed ball and scored on an errant throw to third to tie the game at 3-3. Fitzgerald’s sacrifice fly to center scored Sandelier as the Hawks took a 4-3 lead. DeSanto then walked, took second and third on consecutive wild pitches, and scored on Cardoza’s groundout, staking Monmouth to a 5-3 lead.
Rider got an unearned run back in the 6th when a throwing error with two outs allowed a run to score, cutting the Hawks’ lead to 5-4. In the 7th, Megan McDonough hit a one-out double to right center before Allysen Breeden singled up the middle to score the tying run. Breeden took second on the throw home before scoring on Montana Berg’s single up the middle for what proved to be the winning run.
The Hawks close out the regular season with a Sunday doubleheader against Manhattan. The twinbill will be critical for seeding for the MAAC Championships, as the Hawks are currently tied with the Jaspers and could finish as high as No. 3 or low as No. 6. Sunday’s doubleheader, which doubles as Senior Day, will begin at 1 p.m.