WEST POINT – In its first competitive games in New York State for the 2013 season, the Marist softball team split a doubleheader at Army on Wednesday, with a 1-0 extra inning decision in Game One and a 3-0 setback in Game Two. The first game featured a classic pitching duel between two of the best hurlers in the MAAC and Patriot League, Emily Osterhaus and Morgan Lashley and ended with a dramatic 11th inning home run by freshman Nicole Cheek. The second game featured strong pitching, as well, but timely hits by the Black Knights would overcome Marist’s 8-6 advantage in hits.
For the doubleheader, junior Alyssa Zahka led a trio of Red Foxes with multiple hits as she went 5-8 on the afternoon; freshmen Maureen Duddy and Kyrsten Van Natta went 4-7 and 2-7, respectively.
In the circle, Osterhaus threw an 11-inning complete game shutout in the first contest, while Melanie White came on in relief and threw 5.1 innings of five-hit softball in the second.
Pitching was the name of the game in the opening contest of the twinbill as the Osterhaus, the MAAC Pitcher of the Week on March 12, went toe-to-toe with the reigning Patriot League and ECAC Pitcher of the Week, Morgan Lashley.
After both teams threatened with runners in the first inning, both pitchers locked in and sailed with three-up, three-down frames in the second, third, fifth and seventh innings. Army threatened with two hits in the bottom of the fourth, while Marist had two runners on in the top of the sixth.
Once the game got into extra innings, the Red Foxes started hitting Lashley with more regularity. In eighth, ninth and 10th frames, Duddy, Alyssa Zahka and Christina Lausch and Joelle Zahka all had singles, while Van Natta drew a walk.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, Army challenged with two runners on, one via a single and one off of a hit by pitch, but Osterhaus and the Red Foxes rose to the challenge and lived to fight on in the 11th inning by stranding both.
Building off of that momentum, Marist came out in the top of the 11th and notched three hits off of Lashley, though none was bigger than the one registered by Cheek. The freshman took an offering from the Army hurler and hit a high fly out over the left field wall to finally break up the 0-0 stalemate. This would be her team-leading sixth home run of the season.
The Red Foxes held off Army’s final push in the bottom of the 11th to earn the hard-fought and dramatic 1-0 victory.
For the game, Marist outhit Army 8-6. Of note, this is Osterhaus’ second career 11-inning complete shutout as she defeated Rider on the road on April 15, 2012.
The Red Foxes came out in Game 2 and looked to make it three wins in three games versus the Black Knights this season, following a win at Norfolk State in the Spartan Classic and the thrilling Game 1 victory.
The freshmen duo of Van Natta and Duddy did their best to get Marist started fast as they opened the game with back-to-back singles in the top of the first. Strong defense by the Black Knights held the Red Foxes scoreless by turning a double play and snagging a Cheek drive out towards the right field foul line.
Junior Paige Lewis started the game in the circle for Marist, but left after four batters due to an injury. Unfazed, Melanie White came on in relief and struck out the first batter she faced to strand two Black Knights.
Army would manufacture the first run of Game 2 in the bottom of the second with two singles and a walk.
With Army’s starting pitcher Braetana Roy keeping Marist’s lineup off balance just enough, that run would stand up as the eventual game-winner.
In the fifth inning, the Red Foxes would threaten with three singles in a two-out rally attempt; in the sixth, an Alyssa Zahka single and Lausch walk with one out would try the Black Knights once again. Two runs by Army in the bottom of the sixth would close out the scoring at 3-0.
For the game, the Red Foxes outhit the Black Knights, 8-6. Zahka led the way with a perfect 3-3 showing at the plate. White took the hard-luck loss with 5.1 innings pitched and five hits against. The sophomore struck out three Army batters.
The Red Foxes will be back in action next at Hofstra. First pitch of the doubleheader on Thursday, April 4 is slated for 5 p.m. The Pride were participants in the 2013 NCAA Super Regionals.