The Carlow softball team opened its home season by sweeping Chatham University, 7-6 and 3-2, on Friday afternoon, at Fairhaven Park’s Lind Field.
In the first game, Madison Miller (SO/North Huntingdon, Pa.), who was ranked first in the USCAA with a .70 ERA and third in the USCAA with 20 strikeouts, added to her impressive resume. She pitched five strong innings and earned the her third win of the young season, allowing eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Miller hurled a clean first inning, allowing the Celtics (5-2/0-0 RSC) to jump on top early. Carlow loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first, and by the end of the frame they used five singles to lead the Cougars, 2-0.
Abby Tatgenhorst (FR/Byesville, Ohio) drove in Kelsey Geyer with a bases-loaded single to left field, and Natalie Bashada (SR/Belle Vernon, Pa.) followed with a hard grounder up the middle to bring in Allison Hryadil (SR/Pittsburgh, Pa.).
The Celtics added two more runs in the second inning, when a Kenzie Young (SR/Leechburg, Pa.) single drove in Geyer, and Bashada drew a walk to score Hryadil.
Chatham (2-9) got on the board in the top of the third, when Marissa Wightman doubled down the left field line to score Holly Ackerman. Cougars pitcher Madison Howell helped her cause by driving in two more runs to cut Carlow’s lead to 4-3, before making the final out of the inning trying to extend her long single to a double.
The Celtics answered in the bottom of the third, when pinch runner Maria Lamonde (FR/Pittsburgh, Pa.) used a nifty dodge and slide-by to beat the throw to home on a sacrifice fly by Marla Small (SR/West Mifflin, Pa.).
Hryadil opened the bottom of the fourth inning by smashing a standup double off the left center fence, and Young followed it up with an RBI triple deep to right field. Young scored what would be the winning run on a wild pitch, and the Celtics took a 7-3 lead into the fifth inning.
But the Cougars kept hanging around, and in the top of the fifth, Howell knocked in another run and catcher Kaitlin Sonson drove in two more. Chatham carried that momentum to its defense, holding Carlow scoreless for the first time of the afternoon in the bottom of the inning.
With the heart of the Chatham lineup coming to the plate and the Cougars trailing just 7-6 in the top of the sixth, Nicole Hall (JR/Jeannette, Pa.) stepped into the circle for the Celtics. After hitting the first batter she faced, she retired of six the next eight Cougars in the final two innings to earn the save.
Howell pitched another shutout frame in the bottom of the sixth, but Hall and her defense went to work in the top of the seventh as the Cougars had their last chance. A nifty 6-4-3 double play by Geyer, Small and Danielle Levato (SO/Beaver Falls, Pa.) closed out the first game.
Hall finished with three strikeouts and just two hits allowed in her two shutout innings. She returned to the circle to start the second game, while the Cougars called on Samantha Crilley.
The first game was a two-hour offensive affair, but the second game was a defensive battle. Haley Stedeford (SR/Pittsburgh, Pa.) did not earn Carlow’s first hit until the third inning, and at that point, Chatham also had just one hit.
Later in the third inning, Young drove in the game’s first run with a shot down the right field line. Chatham right fielder Holly Ackerman made a spectacular diving catch to put out Young and save at least one more Carlow run, not before Small scored after tagging up at third base.
Chatham’s Kasandra Peterson responded with a single to score Wightman, who had doubled, to tie the game at 1 in the top of the fourth inning.
Young, who leads the Celtics with eight RBIs on the season, drove in her second run of the game in the fifth inning. Pinch runner Lauren McLaughlin (FR/Greensburg, Pa.) stole two bases, then sneaked home on Young’s groundout to third base to give Carlow a 2-1 lead.
Hall gave way to Levato in the sixth inning, leaving the game allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Peterson welcomed Levato with a hard line drive off the top of the left field fence, scoring Wightman to tie the game at 2.
The Celtics got nothing out of the bottom of the sixth, and the Cougars loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh. Crilley hit a deep fly ball into center field, but Young made the catch and fired a perfect throw to Tatgenhorst, who tagged out Hunter Payne at the plate to give Carlow the chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh.
Geyer kicked off the final frame with a bunt single and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Hryadil smashed a line drive down the third base line to score her for the game-winning run.
Levato finished with the win, allowing one run on three hits and a double.
The Celtics return to action at noon Saturday in their first River States Conference matchup of the season, hosting crosstown rival Point Park University.