Fairfield softball (9-2 in conference play) swept yet another Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team on Sunday, April 14, against Monmouth University (2-4 in conference play). The Stags defeated the Hawks in their doubleheader games winning 10-2 and 9-8 respectively.
After defeating Rider University with a pair of 8-0 wins on Saturday, the team was looking to continue on with force for the next two games at home on Alumni Field. With Monmouth being the newest team to the MAAC, the Stags didn’t know what to expect and came out strong during the first game.
Senior Rae Ball started off on the mound for the Stags, pitching five innings and allowing six hits and two runs, but striking out four. Monmouth was able to get the first hit of the game in the second inning. However, Fairfield fired back in the bottom half of the second inning as Monmouth continued to make errors, allowing the Stags to advance on the bases.
Sophomore Nicole Capra posted the first run batted in of the game after a line drive hit allowed Lauren Filicia ‘16 to head home and get the first run on the scoreboard. Continuing with this momentum with Capra on first and Ball on second due to an error, Gianna Kinhofer ‘17 got a base hit off an error to send Ball home. At the end of the second, Fairfield led Monmouth 2-0.
At the top of the third, Monmouth was able to place runners in scoring positions after a walk from Ball and then a base hit. After a RBI, Monmouth trailed Fairfield 1-2, but the Stags were able to put the inning to rest before any other Monmouth players could make it home.
The third inning proved to be the most successful for the Stags in the first game of the doubleheader. Setting up the inning, Sammy Ruffolo ‘15 singled out to third base as Lauren Liseth ‘14 got the next hit, allowing Ruffolo to advance to second. Junior Sam Frungillo was called out at first in her at bat, but Liseth and Ruffolo were able to advance to second and third on the out. Next up, Tori Reed ‘17 was walked, which allowed the Stags to load the bases. Lauren Filicia singled out and sent Ruffolo and Liseth home, making the score 4-1. For the remainder of the inning, Monmouth struggled to get any runners out, resulting in Fairfield scoring three more runs, now putting them ahead 7-2. Alone, Lauren Filicia had three hits, three runs and three RBIs.
“Lauren Filicia had great at bats; she is really on fire right now and coming up big,” said Head Coach Julie Brzezinski. “She’s having clutch hits and that’s really what we need at this time of the year.”
Completely dominating the rest of the game, two singles from Lauren Filicia and Reed put the Stags on top even further now, making the score of the game 9-2 in the fourth inning. As the game came to a close in the sixth inning after Monmouth failed to score any runs, Fairfield’s Lauren Filicia posted the last and final run for the Stags, concluding the first game of the double header, 10-2.
“Since we don’t know Monmouth, we came out with everything that we have,” said Ball. “It’s not like other teams where we know what they’re going to be like, so we had to play at our highest level.”
Looking to sweep the Hawks, the Stags prepared for their second game of the day. Taking the mound for the team in the second game was Rebecca Trott ‘14, who struggled to defend Monmouth’s sudden change in pace. In the first inning, Monmouth posted three runs and two hits. But, Fairfield was able to get the three runs back and tie the game after Kristen Filicia ‘14 started off the first inning with a single to the right side of the field. After two walks by Monmouth and Kristen Filicia on third, the bases were loaded and yet again, Lauren Filicia stepped up to the plate and was able to get a hit which sent two runners home for Fairfield. Before the final out, Kinhofer singled out to left field and sent Reed home, which tied the score in the bottom of the first inning.
Monmouth continued to push offensively in the second inning. Trott struggled to keep runners off the bases and after two wild pitches, Monmouth was able to steal home and advance on the bases. After the Hawks posted four more runs due to a three run home run, the inning was retired at 6-3 Hawks, along with Trott who allowed seven hits and six runs.
After Kristen Filicia was able to steal second in the third inning, Liseth tripled out to right field and sent Kristen Filicia home, who tightened the score between the teams to 4-6. However, Monmouth was relentless in the third inning. Even after a pitching change for Fairfield from Trott to Lauren Falkanger ‘16, Monmouth still scored two runs after another two run home run, putting them ahead 8-4.
“We got in a hole pretty quick with our pitching and we had to play catch-up ball, and when we play catch-up ball, we’re not able to run as much and do as many little things that we normally do when we’re behind,” said Brzezinski.
After two innings with no runs scored from either side, Fairfield only had one more opportunity to try to sweep Monmouth. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Kristen Filicia was the only runner on base, until Ruffolo doubled to left field. Liseth was able to get her second hit of the game to center field, which allowed both Ruffolo and Filicia to head home.
Freshman Nicole Gardon, winning pitcher of the game, was able to hold Monmouth’s offense off for four innings, allowing only three hits. After the strong Monmouth offense came to an end, Fairfield had the bottom of the seventh inning to score and get the win that they had easily captured in the first game.
“I think we just got ahead of ourselves because we had won the first game and we came out a little flat and a little too confident,” added Ball about the second game.
As Fairfield continued to fight, Monmouth began to struggle to stay ahead. After a base hit and then an error, Reed was able to get to third base on what was only a base hit. Despite a strikeout by Lauren Filicia, Reed was then able to score when Monmouth’s catcher missed the pitch and then threw the ball to first to tag Lauren Filicia out. Now 7-8, Kinhofer singled out and Capra was able to hit a double to right center, sending Brianna Levick ‘15 home, who ran for Kinhofer. With the score now 8-8 and with two outs, Kristen Filicia was able to get the winning RBI by sending Capra home after a hit that landed between first and second base.
Looking ahead, the team has outlined their goals for the rest of the season, especially in MAAC play. Kristen Filicia, who got the game winning hit, commented on the goals.
“We want to keep competing with MAAC teams, make the MAAC tournament and hopefully win it this time around.”