HAMDEN, Conn. – After trudging through 13-plus inning against the Monmouth Hawks without once gaining a lead, the Quinnipiac University softball team decided it was better late than never. Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Bobcat offense came alive with four runs capped by a walk-off double from sophomore Paige Giunta (Downingtown, Pa.) to lift Quinnipiac to the 6-5 victory in game two of Sunday's doubleheader. The Bobcats dropped game one as Giunta's double salvaged a split in the two-game MAAC set to move Quinnipiac to 9-30 (5-9 MAAC) while the Hawks stand 14-17 (6-6 MAAC) on the season.
Giunta's second double of the season and first career walk-off hit capped an amazing comeback in the seventh inning that saw Quinnipiac overcome a three-run deficit heading into the seventh for the second time three weeks, matching their come-from-behind 11-10 win over UConn on April 3.
The furious comeback started with a leadoff home run from junior Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) as she lifted a 3-1 fastball over the left field fence. Barba's homer was her fifth of the season, setting a new single-season career high in the process. Sophomore Abby Johnson (Chelmsford, Mass.) followed with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around on a RBI single through the right side for junior Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.).
Now down just one run, sophomore Dani Edmands (Northborough, Mass.) nudged a groundout off the end of her bat but the out turned out to be a crucial one as it moved pinch runner Brittney Cyr (Southington, Conn.) over to second base. With one out and the tying run on second, junior Hannah Lindsley (Narragansett, R.I.) came through in the clutch with a sharp liner back up the middle into center field that scored a hard charging Cyr from second base.
With the Bobcat bench all on their feet, Giunta stepped into the box with the score tied and the winning run on first. After working the count to 3-1, the sophomore infielder fought off three straight foul balls before coming through with one of the biggest hits of her career. Giunta took a 3-2 fastball and served it to the left center field gap. Lindsley rounded third and was correctly waved around by head coach Jill Karwoski as the throw in to home from the cutoff was late and the Bobcats walked off with the 6-5 victory.
Giunta was one of four Bobcats to record a hit in both games of the doubleheader as she also singled in game one. Paolucci finished with three hits on the day including two RBI in game two as she extended her hitting streak to 14 games, the longest for any Bobcat since the 2005 season. Lindsley had a productive day at the dish, recording an RBI in each game and three hits total in the doubleheader to finish 3-for-6 with one run, one double and two RBI. Sophomore Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa.) also tallied a hit in each game including a two-run double in the seventh inning of game one. Barba had a monster 3-for-4 day at the plate in game two, scoring two runs with one homer and two RBI.
Sophomore Sydney Robey (Glenmoore, Pa.) couldn't get much going as she took the loss on the mound in game one, allowing 10 runs (four earned) in 0.2 innings. Senior Katie Alfiere (Beacon Falls, Conn.) appeared in both games in relief duty and neutralized the Monmouth offense to keep her team alive. Alfiere went 4.1 innings in game one, striking out four batters and allowing four runs (none earned) to finish off the five inning defeat. She entered in relief of the Bobcats' starter Lindsley in game two and tossed another 4 solid innings. Alfiere allowed just three hits and one run in her four innings of work to pick up her second victory of the season.
Before the seventh inning magic in game two, Monmouth built a 5-2 lead with two runs each in the first and fourth inning before tacking on another in the sixth. The Bobcats scored their two runs with one each in the first and second. Paolucci drove in Johnson from second base with an RBI single to left field while Barba picked up an RBI single in the second inning with a little floater to right field that found space and fell in front of the Monmouth outfielder.
Alfiere's work on the mound was key in the middle innings as she combined to strand six Hawk base runners in her four innings of work. Sophomore Molly Jarrett (Northport, N.Y.) made a terrific stab at third base in the sixth in support of Alfiere as she snagged a wicked line drive that prevented at least one run to score on the play.
In game one of the doubleheader, the Bobcats had trouble escaping the first inning as Monmouth built an insurmountable 10-0 lead that they would never relinquish throughout the five-inning victory. A total of 15 batters took at-bats in the first for Monmouth as the Hawks scored 10 runs on six hits to take the commanding lead.
Monmouth tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning to lead 14-0 before the Bobcats finally broke up the shutout in the fifth. Solt had the big hit in the inning with a two-run double to left center that scored freshman Kathryn Vitale (Cheshire, Conn.) and Jarrett on the play. Lindsley kept the inning going with an RBI single to right field while Johnson later scored on a fielding error from Monmouth before the Hawks' Sydney Underhill finished off the 14-4 victory with a strikeout.
The Bobcats' split was big for the team's psyche as they snapped an eight-game losing streak heading into this week's action with a non-conference tilt at home against Sacred Heart on Thursday at 3:00 pm before a road MAAC doubleheader against Marist on Saturday.
Contact: Maxx McNall; firstname.lastname@example.org