Climbing Back into Contention: Warm Weather Brings Weekend Wins

By Dave Maurer

Sports Reporter

The Canisius Softball Team started the season slowly, but the squad is starting to pick up some momentum as play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference begins. The Griffs entered this past weekend with a 9-24 record, hoping to improve at the plate and on defense. They did just that, en route to earning three wins in four games against conference opponents Fairfield and Iona.

The Griffs opened the weekend with a doubleheader on Saturday as they hosted the reigning MAAC champions in the first two of their four weekend games. Looking to end a four-game skid, the Griffs came out against Fairfield with sophomore ace Erika Mackie on the mound and a lineup that was poised to produce some offense. Mackie started off poorly, allowing three runs in the first inning, but recovered quickly to toss a complete game and earn the win for the Griffs. The offense fought their way back into the game with RBI singles from Alexis Roman, Lindsey Silfer, and Denver Keller before the Griffs were able to come away with a thrilling walk-off win in the final frame as Destiny Holani was drilled in the back with the bases loaded, thus allowing fellow freshman Lauren Castro to score from third. The Griffs came together for eleven hits in the 5-4 win over the Stags in game one.

“Beating the reigning champion is huge and it felt great to get the win,” Mackie said. “It sets the tone for the rest of MAAC play and I think this win was a way to let everyone know that they can’t sleep on us.”

Game two was essentially the opposite of game one in a couple of ways. The Griffs bounced out to an early 4-2 lead by the end of the third inning thanks to a two-out, two-run home run by Silfer. However, it was the Stags who took control of the game in the final frame as their sophomore second basemen ripped a 2-2 pitch to score two runs and give the Stags a 6-5 win.

Sunday was a party for the Griffs offense, and everyone was invited. Everybody who took an at-bat in the two games against Iona came away with at least one hit and the Griffs scored the most runs (26) in a doubleheader since 1992. The Griffs jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in game one, highlighted by a pair of home runs from Jessica Berzins and Silfer. The Griffs then used an eight-run fourth inning to break the game open on their way to a 14-6 mercy rule victory. All of Canisius’ starters scored a run in the win and sophomore Madi Weathers tossed 2.2 innings in relief to earn her second win of the season.

“It felt nice to make solid contact with the ball,” Berzins said. “It always feels good to contribute to a win in that way because I’ve never really been a home run hitter, so it’s a nice feeling to fill that role.”

The firepower on offense did not go away in game two. The Griffs tallied ten hits en route to a 12-4 victory in another game that was shortened by the mercy rule. Castro started the game for the Griffs on the mound before allowing Weathers to come in and pick up her second win of the day in relief. Roman went 3-3 from the plate and Meghan Cuda hit her second triple of the season in the final inning. The Griffs improved to 12-25 on the season with the win, and improved to .500 in MAAC play.

The Griffs traveled to Olean on Wednesday to take on longtime rival St. Bonaventure in their final non-conference game of 2016. Weathers went the distance in the game, pitching seven innings and striking out five. However, the offense fell silent, as they were able to produce only three hits en route to a 2-0 defeat.

MAAC play will continue this coming weekend for the Griffs, as they hit the road for doubleheaders against Saint Peter’s and Manhattan on Saturday and Sunday. The Peacocks have yet to win a game in 2016, but the Jaspers are sitting near the top of the MAAC as the conference schedule starts to get going. Following the weekend doubleheaders, the Griffs will return to western New York to take on rival Niagara on Tuesday. Hopefully, the Griffs will continue their climb in the standings and turn into a threat as we move closer to the postseason.



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