LYNCHBURG, VA – The Iona college softball program earned its first ever national postseason victory against Campbell University on Tuesday afternoon, 3-2. With the win, the Gaels earned the right to play Ohio later in the afternoon; the Bobcats defeated the Gaels 5-1, sending the Maroon & Gold side to the bracket in the inaugural National Invitational Softball Championship.
Game One: Iona 3, Campbell 2
Timely hitting carried the Maroon & Gold past the Camels in game one of the NISC Lynchburg, VA regional. The Gaels batted .375 (3-for-8) with two outs, .364 with runners on base (4-for-11), and .500 (4-for-8) with runners in scoring position. Each of Iona's seven hits came in advancement opportunities.
Sophomore Marisa Gergel came through in the clutch with two outs in the top of the third inning. The First Team All-MAAC outfielder took a 1-0 pitch and harped it into centerfield, scoring sophomore second basemen Hailey Thompson from third base; Thompson had started the scoring rally with a one-out single to right field, and was able to advance to third on a fielding error. The Gaels added another run in the third on a bases loaded four pitch walk drawn by junior catcher Tori Danner.
Freshman designated player Jasmine Temple started the fourth with a double to leftfield. Sophomore Kimberly Chiapparelli successfully laid down what was support to be a sacrifice bunt, but it ended up in a Maroon & Gold baserunner as Campbell's third basemen committed the team's second error of the game. Thompson then stepped up to the plate and singled through the left side on the first pitch she saw to score Temple from third.
Campbell scored its first run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly from senior catcher Bailey Bjorson. The Camels threatened to knot the game in the bottom of the seventh. Junior Melissa Tullar singled through the right side, pushing senior Amber Schisler across the plate to make the deficit one. The Gaels escaped peril when Thompson ended the game with a clever unassisted force out at second base.
Sophomore Alana Evans went seven innings, allowed just three hits while striking out two. The three-time MAAC Pitcher of the Week had to battle through eight walks and one wild pitch, but her 120 pitch effort eventually resulted in her 17th win of the season.
Gergel, Temple, senior first basemen Kristen Turner, and senior Katie Newton each had one hits. Thompson ended the day with three hits, one runs, and one run batted in. Senior leftfielder Ashlyn Morris drew one walk while Danner took two free passes.
This was Iona's first national postseason in program history. The Gaels had lost eight games in the NCAA Tournament before today's NISC win.
Game Two: Ohio 5, Iona 1
Iona took to the diamond again just an hour after its win against Campbell to matchup against the Ohio Bobcats. The Gaels bats and freshman hurler Marnie Skinner found themselves matched up against one of the best pitcher's in the entire nation in red-shirt senior Savannah Jo Dorsey.
Dorsey, a 2017 All-MAAC First Team selection, entered the game having 337 strikeouts. She added to season total, which ranks second in the NCAA, striking out seven over six shutout innings. Iona's one hit of the game came in the game's first plate appearance when Morris slapped an infield single through the five-six hole.
The Bobcats scored its first two runs in the bottom of the third. Sophomore designated player Natalie Alvarez and Skinner battled for nine pitches before a sharp single found its way to centerfield to score junior Mikayla Cooper. Ohio scored its second run of the inning on a fielding error off a grounder by sophomore Jamie Wren.
Alvarez singled to left field for another RBI base-knock in the fifth inning. The final blow came on a full count off the bat of junior Danielle Stiene. She hit a sharp grounder passed the diving Newton to drive in Wren and sophomore Alex Day, making the score 5-0.
Iona scored its lone run in the seventh inning. Temple reached base after being hit by a pitch and was pinch ran for by sophomore Samantha Mello. With two outs, freshman Rebecca Gabert hit a grounder to first that was booted to allow Mello to score her ninth run of the season.
Skinner finished the game going 5.1 innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on nine hits and three walks. She struck out two and walked three. Junior Jessica Harkness pitched 0.2 innings in relief, retiring both batters she faced.
Tomorrow in an elimation game, the Gaels fight to continue its season against the winner of Tuesday night's UNCW and Liberty matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 7 PM. The game can be listened live on IonaInsider.com.