NEW LONDON, Conn.-Third baseman Cherokee Strickland capped a 29-hit attack with a two-run walk-off single and Sarah Sorensen picked up a win and a save in the circle as the Coast Guard softball team picked up a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference sweep over MIT on Friday afternoon at Nitchman Field. The Bears won the opener 10-2 in six innings before rallying in the nightcap – after leading by four in the top of the seventh – for a 10-9 victory and a sweep of the twin bill.
Coast Guard improves to 10-14 (3-7 NEWMAC) with the sweep while MIT drops to 7-13 (4-6 NEWMAC) on the season.
Game One: Coast Guard 10, MIT 2
Right-fielder Kelsey Gray (1-4, RBI) singled home the game-ending run in the bottom of the sixth as Coast Guard, on the strength of 11 hits, claimed a 10-2 run-rule shortened victory in the opener.
Coast Guard opened up the scoring in the bottom of the third with four runs of MIT's junior starter Ellie Fodor (4-8). The inning was highlighted by a two-run double to left center by third baseman Cherokee Strickland (2-4, 4 RBI, run) to plate catcher Jessie Richardson (3-3, RBI, 3 runs) and left fielder Erin Reynolds (1-4, RBI, 3 runs).
MIT would get a pair of runs back in the fourth. Shortstop Monica Shifflet (2-3, RBI, run) singled home second baseman Karly McLaughlin (1-3, run) who led off the inning with a single up the middle before coming in to score on a wild pitch later in the inning.
The Bears would get both runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a double by Reynolds to score Richardson and a single by center fielder Kaitlin Ward (1-4, RBI) to drive in Reynolds two batters later.
Four Coast Guard runs in the sixth sealed the victory. After second baseman Erin Lisko (2-4, 2 runs) scored on Erin Reynolds' fielder's choice, Strickland followed that up with a two-run singled to right field to give the Bears a 9-2 lead at the time with just one out. It looked like the Engineers would live to see the seventh after consecutive strikeouts but Gray delivered a single past the diving reach of McLaughlin to plate Strickland with the game-ending run.
Sophomore righty Kristine Kahl (6-5) picked up the victory, working four innings, for the Bears with classmate Sarah Sorensen earning the save with two strong innings of relief.
Game Two: Coast Guard 10, MIT 9
Trailing 9-8 with two outs and the bases loaded, Cherokee Strickland (3-5, 3 RBI) line a first pitch fastball into right field to score second baseman Erin Lisko (3-4, RBI, 2 runs) and catcher Jessie Richardson (1-3, 2 runs) with the game-tying and game-winning runs, respectively. Richardson was intentionally walked – with one out – two batters prior to load the bases and set up force plays all around. The plan seemed to work when the next batter, left fielder Erin Reynolds (2-5, 2 runs) grounded into a fielder's choice at short that saw shortstop Morgan Kingston (3-4, 2 RBI, run) gunned down at the plate.
The game was tied at 1-1 after four innings of play before both offenses came to life. MIT struck three times in the top of the fifth to grab a 4-1 lead on three consecutive run-scoring singles by second baseman Karly McLaughlin (2-4, 2 RBI, run), center fielder K.K. Wopat (2-3, RBI, run), and left fielder Helen Rosenthal (1-4, RBI).
Coast Guard would answer back with a three-spot of their own in the bottom half when designated player Hannah Ingerson (2-3, 3 RBI) launch a towering fly ball to left center that hit off the base of the fence for a three-run, bases-clearing double to tie the game.
The Bears seemingly had the game won headed into the seventh with an 8-4 lead, courtesy of a four-run sixth, highlighted by Kingston's two-run homer to give the Bears the lead. A five-run top of the seventh by MIT would change things dramatically headed into the bottom of the seventh. After three runs had already come in, the Engineers were still threatening with runners on second and third with two out as pitcher Ellie Fodor (2-4, 2 RBI, run) – who took the loss to fall to 4-9 – singled up the middle to plate the tying and go-ahead run, giving MIT a chance to salvage a split going into the bottom of the seventh.
Sarah Sorensen (4-9) picked up the win in relief of Kristine Kahl after registering her first career save in the opener.
The 20 runs scored in the double-header are the most the Bears have scored against a NEWMAC opponent since racking up 22 runs against Smith on March 30, 2012.
Strickland had the game-winning hits in both games while Kingston fell a triple short of the cycle in the nightcap.
Coast Guard will be back in action tomorrow, Saturday, April 12th when they travel to take on Clark in a NEWMAC double-header at 12:00 pm.