MARCY, N.Y. – The SUNYIT Women's Softball Team (15-10, 9-3 NEAC) got familiar with both ends of the sporting spectrum over the weekend, following up a pair of dominant wins over Wells on Saturday with two heartbreaking losses to rival Keuka on Sunday.
Saturday……Game 1: SUNYIT 9, Wells 0, Game 2: SUNYIT 9, Wells 0
The Wildcats dominated in every aspect against the visiting Express in surrendering just two combined hits on the day, one in each game. Junior Erica Hovey (Dexter, N.Y. / Jefferson CC) hurled 5 shutout innings in the first contest, surrendering the lone hit of the game to Wells shortstop Alyssa Acquaviva in the top of the 4th inning. Hovey finished the game with 6 strikeouts to just 1 walk.
In the second game junior Jae Dee Lavada (Mayfield, N.Y. / Montgomery CC) took the ball for the Wildcats in the second game, picking up right where Hovey had left off by retiring the first 6 Wells batters in a row before giving up a walk to Alyson Mann in the top of the 3rd.
Just like Hovey, Lavada lost her no-hit bid late in the game as Wells centerfielder Lorelei Meier delivered a base-hit with one out in the top of the 6th (what would ultimately be the team's last at-bat, as SUNYIT scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 6th to invoke the 9-run rule). Lavada finished the day with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk in six full innings of work.
On the offensive end, Bianca Brown (Utica, N.Y. / Utica-Proctor) did the most damage for SUNYIT. The senior first baseman delivered a bases-clearing double in the first game to put the Wildcats up 8-0 in the fourth, then followed it up with two more RBI's on another double in the second game. Brown finished the day with 5 RBI's on a pair of doubles, while scoring another 3 runs herself.
On the day the Wildcats pounded out 18 hits in 11 innings of play.
Sunday….Game 1: Keuka 2, SUNYIT 1, Game 2: Keuka 1, SUNYIT 0
After Sunday's doubleheader at Wildcat Field, one observant fan was quoted as saying, while shaking his head "They [Keuka] are such a tough team; if you make a single mistake they'll take advantage of it and win the game."
Whether or not it is fair to credit SUNYIT with any "mistakes," it is true that the Wildcats surrendered some untimely hits to visiting Keuka College late in both games, and the league-leading Storm certainly took advantage.
In the first game, Wildcat hurler Erica Hovey was near untouchable for the first six innings. During that time the junior right-hander gave up just three hits while striking out a whopping 9 Storm batters (Hovey would finished the game with 10 K's to no walks).
But as the prescient fan noted, near-flawless is not enough for a game with the Storm. In the top of the 7th inning Hovey let the leadoff hitter on base for just the second time all game, as Kelly Proper singled. After a sacrifice bunt gave the Wildcats an out, Keuka chose their time to strike. Left-fielder Jill Hart tied the game with a double at 1-1, and before the dust had even settled right-fielder Brittany Smyder had knocked her in with a triple, giving Keuka the lead 2-1.
After Hovey stranded Smyder on third, the stunned Wildcats went down in the bottom half in four batters.
For the Wildcats in the first game it was catcher Lauren Marleau (Prospect, N.Y. / Holland Patent) scoring SUNYIT's lone run. The junior took advantage of two Keuka errors and a base-hit by teammate Bianca Brown in the first to cross the plate for the Wildcats.
In the second game the Wildcats, to their credit, appeared to leave any thoughts of the previous game behind. Jae Dee Lavada went five strong for the 'Cats, holding the Storm scoreless on 2 strikeouts and 5 hits. The Wildcats simply couldn't get anything going on offense, however, as their 5 hits on the game all came in separate innings, with Brown being the only player to record an extra base hit (a double in the 2nd inning).
As the late innings rolled around, one would be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu: after 5 solid innings of work from Lavada, Hovey came in to relieve in the top of the sixth inning, at which point Kelly Proper proceeded to start off the inning with a triple over the head of Tiffany Troilo (Rye Brook, N.Y. / Blind Brook) in right. As the crowd groaned in anticipation, however, Hovey proceeded to dispense with the next two batters, and it looked as if the Wildcats might strand Proper at third.
Moments later such hopes were dashed, as Keuka's hero from the first game, Brittany Smyder, bashed a double to the left-center field wall, scoring Proper and giving Keuka a 1-0 lead. The Storm would hang on during SUNYIT's last two at-bats and walk away with a huge conference sweep.
Despite the losses, SUNYIT is still in good shape at 9-3 in conference. While the Wildcats fall to second place in the North Division behind Keuka, SUNYIT holds a three-game advantage over third place SUNY Cobleskill.
SUNYIT will have a chance to stretch that very advantage on Wednesday when the Fighting Tigers come to Utica for a doubleheader. The first game is scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm.