BENNINGTON, Vt. – Finally getting to hold Opening Day after being washed out numerous times, the Southern Vermont College softball team split a pair of New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) games with Mitchell College Friday afternoon at Willow Park. The Mountaineers lost 7-2 before bouncing back with a 9-4 victory in game two to prevent the sweep.
SVC moves to 4-4 in league play, 6-14 overall. The Mariners now stand at 12-17 on the season, 8-6 against the NECC.
The win for Southern Vt. marks its first in 10 meetings with Mitchell.
Mountaineer junior Emily Fleming (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) had a 4-6 day at the plate while Mitchell sophomore Shannon O'Neil (Chicopee, Mass.) went 4-7, knocking in six runs in the day's opener.
GAME 1: Mitchell 7, Southern Vt. 2
The Mariners grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the first and would never trail the rest of the way in game one. They added four in the third before SVC got on the board in the bottom of the inning to make it 5-1. MC put two more runs up shortly after in the fourth before Southern Vt. notched its second in the bottom of the sixth for the 7-2 final.
O'Neil finished the first game 3-4 in the box with the six RBIs and a run scored, missing out on the cycle by a triple. Sophomore Jenny Groman (New Britain, Conn.) went 2-3 with two runs scored in the win.
Mariner freshman righty Brittany Fiederlein (E. Hampton, Conn.) took the win from the circle to improve to 9-7 on the season, giving up just one earned run while striking out three. Fleming took the loss (3-5), striking out three on the afternoon. Zovistoski pitched a brilliant three innings of relief, striking out four and allowing just one runner to reach base on a seeing-eye single to the left side.
Mitchell was able to take to the scoreboard quickly in the first after a lead-off bunt single came around to score. Sophomore right fielder Rivkah Berkman (New London, Conn.) was moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt and then advanced to third on a passed ball. She would score on the next at bat when O'Neil singled out to left for the 1-0 advantage. After Southern Vt. put only one runner on in the bottom of the first, the Mariners again threatened to score as they moved a runner up to third in the second. Fleming induced an inning-ending pop-out, however, to preserve the 1-0 deficit.
In the bottom of the second, the Mountaineers saw a lead-off walk get moved over to third with a fielder's choice to short followed by a sacrifice bunt. Freshman third baseman Mallory Celeste (Gansevoort, N.Y.) would be stranded there, however, as Fiederlein got out of the inning with a pop-out to junior shortstop Lindsey Romangnino (Totowa, N.J.).
Mitchell added to its lead in the third when O'Neil got all into one and sent it deep over the fence in right field, scoring three with no outs on her second home run of the season. A triple down the line in right by freshman catcher Samantha Ryan (Quaker Hill, Conn.) then plated junior third baseman Dylan Riccardi (Elmont, N.Y.) to make it a 5-0 ballgame.
SVC chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the third, getting itself on the board when a double to left by Zovistoski was misplayed, allowing Mountaineer senior center fielder Erika Garay (Walnut, Calif.) to motor around from first and close it to 5-1. MC responded with two more in the fourth to push its lead out to six. O'Neil continued her damage against Southern Vt. with a two-run double down the left field line, making it 7-1 in favor of the visitors.
That score would hold through the next two innings, due in part to Zovistoski's work from the circle in relief; she struck out the Mitchell side in order in the fifth and then allowed just a single through the left side in the sixth. SVC put up one more in the sixth when Nichols hit her run-scoring single out to right, plating junior Shelby Jones (Hoosick Falls, N.Y.). Southern Vt. was hard-pressed to get any more offense manufactured, however, as the Mariners took game one 7-2.
GAME 2: Southern Vt. 9, Mitchell 4
The Mountaineers came back in game two and threw a four-spot up on the board in the bottom of the first for a lead that would not be relinquished. It was jeopardized in the top of the second when Mitchell answered with three runs to make it 4-3, but SVC tacked on three of its own in the bottom of the frame to extend the lead back to four. Southern Vt. added one more in both the third and fourth before MC scored once in the sixth for the 9-4 final score.
The SVC bats totaled 14 hits in game two with six players having more than one. Fleming went 2-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, and Jones was 2-4 with a pair of runs batted in and a third scored. Celeste had a 2-4 plate appearance, knocking in a run while scoring twice, and senior center fielder Erika Garay (Walnut, Calif.) was also 2-4 with two runs scored in the win.
Junior hurler Hayley McDonald (Latham, N.Y.) took the win from the rubber (3-5), striking out three Mariners in her outing. Mitchell senior Tricia Tomaselli (Guilford, Conn.) suffered the loss (3-10).
MC sophomore Alexandra Blanchette (Taftville, Conn.) went 2-2 with a walk, a run scored, and a run batted in while O'Neil was 1-3 with a walk and a run scored. Ryan added a 1-3 showing with a run scored and an RBI, and Berkman was 2-4 out of the lead-off spot.
Jones wasted little time in knocking in Garay with a single down the line in right for the early lead in the first. Celeste followed with a single through the left side, and an ensuing Nichols base knock then made it 3-0. SVC had runners on the corners and was able to execute the double steal as Celeste crossed the plate for the 4-0 advantage.
The Mariners came right back in the top of the second with run-scoring singles by Ryan, Blanchette and Groman to close it to 4-3. Fleming got the offense started back up in the bottom of the frame when she launched a lead-off homer over the fence in right for her first of the season. With SVC runners at first and third, Zovistoski hit one deep enough to center for Garay to head home and give her team the 6-3 lead. Jones followed up with a single through the right side that brought home sophomore Rachel Robtoy (Baltic, Conn.) and the seventh Southern Vt. run.
Fleming tacked on another RBI in the third with a single to left that plated McDonald, and McDonald then helped herself again in the fourth with a run-scoring single to second that brought home Celeste.
Mitchell took advantage of an SVC throwing miscue in the sixth to put up another run and make it 9-4. With a runner at first, Berkman laid down a great bunt and sprinted down the line, appearing to have beaten the throw. The ball sailed over first, however, and allowed both runners to take an extra pair of bases. It proved not to be costly, however, as McDonald worked herself out of the sixth and made way for Zovistoski to close the book with a solid backup performance in the seventh for the win.
SVC continues the home stand with an 11 a.m. conference doubleheader against Wheelock College on Saturday at Willow. The Mariners turn to a Monday NECC twin-bill at home with Daniel Webster College, starting at 3 p.m.