W. HARTFORD, Conn. – Mount Ida needed a sweep of the University of Saint Joseph on Saturday afternoon to return to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) softball tournament and, despite falling behind by four runs in both of their games, accomplished just that to close out their 2015 regular season on a high note and continue their campaign into Tuesday's first round tournament game.
The Mustangs (8-23, 8-14 GNAC) won the first game 8-7 and then used a six-run inning to beat the Blue Jays 7-5 in game two. They win the tiebreaker for the #8 seed with Norwich based on their record against the rest of the conference from the top down, as the Mustangs claimed a win over #5 seed Johnson & Wales.
It is the Wildcats who will be Mount Ida's opponent in the single-elimination game in Providence on Tuesday, with game time set for 4:00 PM.
Game One: Mount Ida 8, Saint Joseph 7
First baseman Kaitlyn Muhlenforth (Bohemia, N.Y.) went 4-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and designated player Sam Laferriere (Tewksbury, Mass.) drove in three runs, including the game-winning run with an RBI single with two outs in the top of the sixth.
Mount Ida scored twice in the top of the first inning, in which Muhlenforth doubled home Shannon McArthur (Coventry, R.I.), but the Blue Jays took a 7-3 lead thanks to a four-run second and a three-run fourth inning.
The Mustangs got three runs back in the fifth inning on an RBI fielder's choice by Lucianna Medici (Riverside, R.I.) and a two-run single by Laferriere to plate Medici and third baseman Hayley Microulis (Pawtucket, R.I.).
Down by a run, the Mustangs pounded out five hits in the top of the sixth, including three straight singles to open the inning, with the third an RBI base knock by Muhlenforth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Laferriere singled to third base to score Michelle MacDonald (N. Dighton, Mass.) with the eventual game-winning run.
Sophomore Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) earned the victory, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven in a complete game outing.
The Blue Jays used three pitchers, and Shelby Tallman (Colchester, Conn.) took the loss, falling to 2-2 on the year after allowing six hits and two runs over two and two-thirds.
Shortstop Sarah Miller (Southington, Conn.) had two hits in the game for Saint Joseph, and left fielder Colleen Ecsedy (Ashford, Conn.) was 1-3 with two runs scored.
Game Two: Mount Ida 7, Saint Joseph 5
The hosts jumped out to a 5-1 lead after two frames, but a six-run fourth inning was all the rest of the scoring for the game, as Mount Ida held the Blue Jays off the scoreboard for the final five innings.
Muhlenforth went seven innings and allowed just five hits and two earned runs to pick up the victory.
Mount Ida did all of their damage with two outs in the top of the fourth, with the big blows a two-run single by McArthur and a two-run double by Emma Morton (Winchester, Mass.) that broke a 5-5 tie and put the Mustangs ahead.
Muhlenforth and Alexis Boswell (Amesbury, Mass.) also had RBI base knocks in that inning, and Michelle MacDonald scored twice in the contest, while Microulis was 3-3 with a run scored.
Second baseman Haley McCall (Lebanon, Conn.) went 2-3 with two runs scored for Saint Joseph, who was limited to just five hits. Designated player Patti Sciglimpglia (Norwalk, Conn.) scored two runs and drove one in.
Saint Joseph starter Emily Vigue (Lebanon, Conn.) took the loss, allowing seven earned runs on ten hits and two walks, while striking out three.
The Blue Jays (15-17, 11-11 GNAC) have also clinched a spot in the GNAC tournament, and they will play in the first round Tuesday at 7:00 pm at Emmanuel.