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The Merrimack College softball team dropped two close contests in the first two matches of a Friday tripleheader in the Warriors’ final day in Florida.

Links: Box Score (G1)

The Basics
G1 Score:
Pace 5, Merrimack 3
G2 Score: NYIT 5, Merrimack 4 (F/8)
G3 Score: Merrimack 11, Ferris State 9
Records: Merrimack (5-9) |  Pace (1-0) | NYIT (3-2) | Ferris State (4-18)
Location:
Hancock Park | Clermont, Fla.

How It Happened
In Game 1, three different Warriors strung together run-scoring singles in the top of the first to stake Merrimack a 3-0 lead, but Pace drew to within a run with a two-spot in the bottom of the fourth before going ahead for good with three more runs in the fifth to edge the Warriors, 5-3.

Senior Becca Armstrong (Methuen, Mass.) drove in sophomore Mariah Tenney (Winchendon, Mass.) in the top of the first before sophomore Haley Currie (Burlington, Mass.) knocked in junior Brittany Razo (Anaheim, Calif.) to double the lead. Before the frame ended, senior Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Mass.) drove in Armstrong with an infield single to round out the three-run inning.

Meanwhile on the mound, Currie tossed three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the third; Natalie Gellos put the Setters on the board with an RBI triple, and then Surina Sandhu brought her in on a ground ball to third to make it a 3-2 affair.

An inning later, an error proved to be costly and led to three unearned runs that pushed the Setters ahead, 5-3, a deficit Merrimack was unable to overcome. After going in order in the sixth, the Warriors brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh but a groundball double play ended the rally.

Facing NYIT in Game 2, Merrimack struck first in the bottom of the second. After sophomore Samantha Waskowitz (Killingworth, Conn.) reached on a bunt single, she then moved to third on a single to right before scoring during a run-down to put the Warriors on the board.

But in what became a back-and-forth affair, NYIT used a two-run double to grab its first lead of the game in the top of the third. The Bears would eventually get another run and loaded the bases but Currie entered the game in relief and got Merrimack out of the jam.

Trailing by two, Merrimack got a run back after sophomore Morgan Phipps (Melrose, Mass.) scored after reaching on an infield single, taking second on a bunt and eventually scoring on a fielder’s choice to cut the deficit to one. An inning later, rookie Samantha Harris (Londonderry, N.H.) picked a perfect time for her first career homer — a two-run jack — to hand the lead back to the Warriors (4-3).

The Bears would tie it in the top of the sixth, and that would send the game to extras for the first time this season. Playing with the international tiebreaker rule, each side started their respective at-bats with a runner at second. NYIT would capitalize with the runner in scoring position after taking a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth.

Merrimack would start the bottom of the eighth with Phipps at second; she would reach third on a sacrifice, but that was the closet to home she’d get, as the next two Warriors were retired in order to end the game.

In Game 3, Ferris State took early 1-0 lead but an RBI single in the top of the second off the bat of Gibbs helped the Warriors draw even. An inning later, sophomore Kaleigh Finigan (Medford, Mass.) smashed a two-RBI single to score both freshman Amanda Brush (Harleysville, Pa.) and Tenney, putting Merrimack on top by two (3-1).

The Bulldogs would answer with a run in the home half of the frame, but in the top of the fourth, senior Courtney Ulak (Rehoboth, Mass.) doubled, moved to second on a sacrifice and was driven in by Tenney to up the lead to 4-2. An inning later, Harris’ second homer of the day pushed the Warriors’ lead to three before Ferris State got one back off a passed ball in the bottom of the frame, making it a 5-3 game at the end of five.

Merrimack added three insurance runs that proved to be valuable in the top of the sixth, as Finigan drove in two more to add to her four-RBI game, and then another run-scoring base knock off the bat of freshman Brooke Gubala (Raynham, Mass.) made it an 8-3 affair.

Ferris State would not go quietly, scoring four times in the bottom of the sixth to make it interesting. Suddenly leading by just one, Merrimack scratched three more across in the top of the seventh, and all three wound up being necessary; Brush ripped a double to put two runners in scoring position, before Razo drove in one on a run-scoring groundout. Two more would score on an error in the infield, driving the lead up to four (11-7).

The Bulldogs would get two more in the bottom of the seventh but that would be it, as Merrimack finished Florida on a high note with an 11-9 victory in its third game of the day.

Up Next
Merrimack returns home and will look to play games in New England, pending field availability, next week, with a scheduled trip to Stonehill on the docket for Wednesday (March 18) beginning at 3 p.m.

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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