by JOHN JACKSON, Guest Writer
The Manhattan College Softball team played at home for the first time this season, as it swept a doubleheader against the Hartford Hawks. The Jaspers scored a total of 14 runs, as they edged the Hawks 5-4 in game one and crushed them 9-2 in game two.
Both games featured solid starting pitching, clutch relief pitching, and very timely hitting. Briana Matazinsky pointed to teamwork in the team’s success.
“I think we had a great team win,” she said. “Everybody did their part and that goes a long way.”
The Jaspers took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first in game one. However, the Hawks came back in the third due to a couple of costly errors committed by the Jaspers. An RBI single in the sixth extended their lead to 4-2 giving the Jaspers little time to come back.
In the sixth the Jaspers fought back with a leadoff double launched to left center by Matazinsky. After a wild pitch moved Matazinsky to third, Stephanie Reinhardt had the key moment of the game, as she had an RBI single and rounded the bases off a fielder’s choice and a throwing error.
“As I was rounding first I saw the outfielder come up to throw so I knew I can take second and I dove into second,” Reinhardt said. “I knew that the shortstop didn’t have the ball so I got up and ran and then I got to go to home and it was another error. I capitalized on the errors and was aggressive.”
A sacrifice fly would finish the sixth inning, giving the Jaspers a 5-4 lead. They were able to hold on to the lead giving them their first win of the day.
Game two started similar to game one as there was offensive action in the first inning. However, it was the Hawks who scored giving the Jaspers an immediate 2-0 deficit.
The Jaspers were able to tie the game in the second after Zee Pierce reached base on a dropped third strike with runners on second and third and Emily Cutler hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.
Manhattan followed up that inning by taking the lead off an RBI single in the fourth inning.
The Jaspers went into the fifth inning up 3-2 when Matazinsky smashed a homerun over the center field fence. She added an important insurance run while further pumping up an already energized dugout.
“I was just looking for the first pitch hoping it was going to be a strike and it happened to be, so I just took it,” Matazinsky said on her approach.
Things got dicey in the top of the sixth as the Hawks threatened with the bases loaded. Head Coach Tom Pardalis had to go to the bullpen earlier in the inning and it payed off as Erin Hamm struck out Danielle DeMarco to end the inning.
“She was facing their best hitter DeMarco … and she just blew her away,” Pardalis said of Hamm. “Erin did a great job throwing the ball by her.”
The Jaspers were able to extend their lead further in the sixth off an RBI single, double, walk, and sacrifice fly. Their 9-2 lead would stand as they handed Hartford their second loss of the day.
When asked about the sweep, Reinhardt praised it and hopes it can boost morale as they head onto a long road trip.
“It’s awesome, especially as a home opener,” Reinhardt said. “To take this momentum into the road trip at Virginia is going to be a great start for our team.”
The Jaspers improved to 4-3 on the season and they look to carry their momentum onto their 10-game road trip, which starts on Friday Mar. 4, against Drexel.