NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Iona College softball team began Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action with a two game sweep of Niagara Saturday afternoon at Donald E. Walsh Field.
In the opener, the Gaels rode the arm of redshirt sophomore Christine Costello, who threw a two-hit shuout in a 2-0 victory. In the second game, Iona plated the winning runs of a 6-4 win in the ninth inning when sophomore Kristen Turner connected on a two-run walk off homer.
In game one, Costello, making her first career start in league play, retired the first 15 batters of the contest before a leadoff infield single in the sixth inning. She struck out a career high 10 batters in the contest, and pitched out of trouble when the Purple Eagles put the tying runs on in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Iona got its only runs of the contest in the fourth inning. Senior Brianna Schauer plated junior Sarah Schutz with an RBI single to left field. Junior Brianna King then drove in Schauer with a single to center.
Niagara starter Sydney Smyers took the game one loss, allowing six hits and two walks along with two earned runs.
In game two, the Purple Eagles plated their first run of the day in the top of the first inning on an RBI ground out by Chanelle Ward.
The Gaels answered with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. After a leadoff single by senior Allison Hand, Costello followed with an RBI double to left. A single by sophomore Katie Newton put runners on the corners before sophomore Ashlyn Morris doubled in both runners with a double to left field.
Niagara evened the score in the top of the third. Sarah Trifoso scored on an Iona error before Amanda Werth drove in Katelyn Gruarin with a single through the left side.
Iona grabbed a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Schauer scored on a wild pitch by Smyers, who entered in relief of starter Taylor Grieger. Niagara evened the score in the top of the seventh inning, when Gruarin doubled to left field, scoring pinch runner Danielle Stockman.
The Purple Eagles left three runners on base in extra innings, allowing the Gaels to pick up the victory in the bottom of the ninth inning. Schutz led off with a ground-rule double to right field. Turner followed with her third home run of the season in nearly the exact space.
Sophomore Sarah McMahon, who entered in the top of the seventh, picked up her first victory of the season in the contest. McMahon allowed two hits and one walk in 2.2 innings of relief. Junior Jordan Courage allowed three earned runs in 6.1 innings, striking out two. Smyers earned the loss in relief, allowing two runs in 3.2 innings.
Iona completes its opening weekend of league play Monday afternoon at 12:00 pm, when it hosts Canisius.