POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - The top-seeded Iona College softball team advanced to the Championship Round of the 2012 MAAC Softball Championship with a 5-0 win over Canisius in an elimination game Friday afternoon at Gartland Field. Iona was put into the elimination game after falling to second-seeded Fairfield 2-1 earlier in the day in a marathon 15 inning affair.
In the first game of the day, the Gaels and Stags were matched up in a pitchers' duel. Fairfield's Rebecca Trott pitched the first three innings before Rae Ball moved into the circle in the fourth\. She did not allow a run over the next two innings before Trott reentered.
Iona starter Alyssa Maiese pitched the first five innings and did not allow a base runner, retiring the first 15 Fairfield hitters. Sarah Jackson took over and retired the first three batters she faced to run the streak to 18 hitters in a row.
The Gaels broke through in the bottom of the sixth inning against Trott. Freshman Allison Hand delivered a solo home run with one out over the left field fence to give the Gaels a 1-0 lead. Jackson returned for the circle for the seventh inning and retired the first two hitters of the inning. Lauren Liseth represented the final chance for Fairfield and came through with a solo home run over the center field fence to tie the score at 1-1.
Those runs would be all the two teams would be able to push across as the pitching once again controlled the contest. Fairfield would break up the tie in the 15th inning, delivering the eventual game winning run. Ball leading off with a base hit off Jackson. After Maiese returned to the circle, Ball stole second base and Kimi Kurata followed with a double to the right-center field gap to bring in Ball with the winning run.
Against Canisius, the Gaels put four runs across in the first three innings, leaving little doubt that the team would be affected by the result of the first game. In the first, junior Jodi Petersen led off the game with a walk and Hand reached on an infield single. Junior Eileen McCann would walk to load the bases with no one out, and Maiese came through with a single through the left side to score Petersen.
Iona put another run across in the second. Senior Chelsea Sheehan led the inning with a single and moved over to third on back-to-back groundouts. Sheehan would then cross the plate on a wild pitch by Canisius starter Jen Consaul.
Maiese would once again connect on a big hit for the Gaels in the sixth when she drove in Petersen with an RBI single up the middle with two outs as the Gaels pushed the score to the 5-0 final. In the circle, Maiese threw a complete-game five-hitter, striking out eight to pick up her 16th win of the season in the circle.
Iona matches up with Fairfield tomorrow beginning at 12:00 pm. If the Gaels are victorious, game two will begin shortly afterwards with the winner claiming the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship.