NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Iona College softball program split the first two games of the Elon Tournament on Saturday. The Gaels bested Saint Joseph’s to extend their non-conference winning streak to three games, but fell short in a comeback effort against the host Elon in the day’s final
GAME 1: Iona 3, Saint Joseph’s 2
Iona started off the Elon Tournament in tremendous fashion with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. Freshman Marnie Skinner carried the Maroon & Gold in the circle and brought the team’s winning streak to three games.
The Gaels got on the board in the bottom of the second inning with freshman designated player Ciara DiGuillo crossing the plate. The rookie led the frame off with a walk and junior right fielder Courtney Miller followed it up with a one out single through the right side. Sophomore second basemen grounded into a fielder’s choice to earn the RBI.
The Hawks knotted the game at one in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, Ashley Stokes earned a full count walk and then stole second base to get into scoring position. Kaylyn Zierke stepped into the box and hit an infielder chopping single on an 0-2 pitch that pushed the tying run across.
Saint Joseph’s took the lead in the sixth with a second timely two-out hit. Jancarta Herrara singled to third base with one out, and advanced to second with the next out. Amanda Kulp Kulp stepped up to the plate and knocked a 2-2 pitch into the center field to give the Hawks a 2-1 edge.
Iona responded emphatically in the bottom of the sixth. Freshman Jasmine Temple pinch hit for sophomore third basemen Kimberly Chiapparelli to lead off and she came through with a double to right center. Following a pitching change by the Hawks, Miller reached base on the fielder’s choice, a play in Chiapparelli, who reentered for Temple, was also safe at third.
The Maroon & Gold knotted the game on a wild pitch soon after and retook the lead when sophomore centerfielder Marisa Gergel singled down the leftfield line to score Miller.
Skinner took to the rubber in the seventh a sealed her second win of the season by stranding the tying run on second base. The rookie finished the game with four strikeouts and managed to strand 11 Saint Joseph’s runners.
Senior first basemen Kristen Turner had two hits in three at-bats. The two Iona runs batted in came from the nine and ten spots in the batting order with Thompson and Gergel.
GAME 2: Elon 7, Iona 6
Iona jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning when senior shortstop Katie Newton bashed her first homerun of the season over the left field wall. Chiapparelli tacked on another tally with her fourth homer of the season.
Elon jumped back into the game with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth. Starting pitching junior Jessica Harkness got in trouble in the third when the Phoenix got back-to-back hits with one out. Elon then drew give straight walks, two coming after freshman Alana Evans came in relief. On Evan’s first walk, the Gaels committing a throwing error on a wild pitch that also attributed to two additional runs.
The Phoenix added an additional run in the fourth inning to take a 7-4 lead heading into the fifth. The Gaels took to the ground running in their ensuing turn when they got within one run via sophomore Samantha Mello and Temple each crossing the plate. Miller got the Maroon & Gold in business with a groundball to third base that was muffed and led to additional chances.
The Gaels almost tied it up but CHaipparelli was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice ground out by Gergel. Newton stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, but struck out looking after a six pitch battle.
In the top of the seventh, Miller led the inning off with a double to left field. Thompson laid down a successful sacrifice bunt, putting Miller sixty feet away from knotting the score. Gergel and Newton both battled but came up short and the Maroon & Gold dropped its fourth of the season.
Temple and Chiapparelli each had a game-high two hits. Temple crossed the plate twice and had one of the Gaels four extra base hits.
Evans went 3.2 innings in relief of Harkness and allowed one run while striking out three.
The Maroon & Gold return to action tomorrow morning against Wagner and Saint Joseph’s.