The University of Maine softball team salvaged two games Sunday in New York to split a four-game weekend set with conference-rival University of Albany.
The Black Bears improved to 19-25 on the year and an even 7-7 in America East play. First-year pitcher Jenna Merchant tossed a two-hit shutout to lead UMaine to a 2-0 victory in the nightcap Sunday.
Merchant improved to 13-10 on the season with the win. Senior shortstop Erica Sobel scored the first UMaine run in the second inning after she walked and scored on an error. The Black Bears added another run in the seventh on an RBI single from senior Melissa Mather to give Merchant all the support she would need.
Mather, sophomore Sara Asadoorian and senior Katie Churchill had two hits apiece for UMaine. Albany’s Kristin Couris took the loss, her eighth of the season.
The Black Bears came from behind in game one Sunday to score a 3-2 victory. Sophomore Candace Jaegge picked up her sixth win of the season with a six-hit complete game victory.
UMaine sophomore Nicole Taylor singled in senior Leigh Ann Hlywak in the fourth inning to tie the game at one. The Black Bears added a run in the fifth and sixth innings on RBIs from senior Aliesha Rautenberg and Churchill to take a 3-1 edge. Albany pulled within a run in its half of the sixth, but Jaegge shut down any further Great Dane rally and UMaine held on for the win.
Sarah Maida took the loss for Albany, dropping her season record to 14-5. Lynette Bohannon had two hits to lead the offense.
The Black Bears took Albany to extra innings in both games Saturday but twice came up on the losing end.
Each team opened the scoring early in game one with runs in the first inning. UMaine’s run came on a fielder’s choice by Hlywak that scored Asadoorian, who had doubled with one out.
The score remained 1-1 until the bottom of the eighth inning when Albany’s Brittany Burnham scored from first on a triple by Valerie Terry. Jaegge took the loss for UMaine despite scattering seven hits over seven innings. Mather had two hits in the losing effort.
Albany pitcher Couris was brilliant through eight innings and picked up her sixth win of the year. Couris yielded six hits and one unearned run while striking out five Black Bears in the complete game.
Game two Saturday was almost a carbon copy of the opener, except the two teams battled for 10 innings instead of eight. The end result was the same as Albany triumphed, 2-1.
The Great Danes struck first in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. UMaine pulled even in the sixth when Hlywak followed Aliesha Rautenberg’s triple with a single to make it 1-1 and send the game past seven innings.
Neither team seemed willing to fold, but Albany’s Terry was the hero again in game two as she doubled to score Burnham.
Merchant threw nine-and-one-third tough innings and struck out nine for UMaine, but Albany’s Maida was a little better. Maida gave up just four hits and one run in 10 innings for her 14th win of the season.