On the cusp of playoffs, Quinnipiac softball splits series with Canisius

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Morey Hershgordon

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: MJ Baird

After nearly four hours of field preparation and two pallets of “Quick Dry” dirt, Quinnipiac University facilities had the softball field in ready condition.

The lengthy 12-hour meeting between the Canisius Golden Griffins and the Quinnipiac Bobcats culminated in a series split.

Amongst the 12 hours? A little softball, rain delays and dancing to pass the time.

“(It) is more mental then physical,” head coach Jill Karwoski said. “We knew we could put it in play with conditions like this, but we weren’t sure what was going to happen.”

The Golden Griffins, coming into the set on a four game win streak, held second place in the conference.

The Bobcats on the other hand, entered with a below .500 conference record, sitting on the outside of the playoff picture.

“We are on a mission this weekend. We are fighting for a tournament berth,” Karwoski said.

Game One, originally set to start at 10 a.m., began just after Noon.

The first four innings brought stellar pitching and runners abandoned in scoring position. Canisius and Quinnipiac both stranded four.

In the top of the fifth Samantha Sharkey singled up the middle, driving in Alexis Roman to give Canisius the first run of the game.

The Bobcats quickly responded with back-to-back extra base hits in the bottom half. Taylor Troyan snagged two bases on a pinch-hit double and freshman Sarah Heimbach followed with a double of her own, knotting it at one.

Sydney Robey worked her way out of a one out, runner on third situation in the top of the sixth. An aggressive base-running attempt by Canisius forced a rundown between third and home. The Bobcats ran her down to end the inning.

Quinnipiac then had the opportunity to end the game in walk-off fashion. Miranda Magana had runners on first and second with one out, when the skies broke loose.

A two-hour rain delay broke the momentum.

“Whether we were out here four hours or almost literally twelve hours, that motivation was already built in today,” Karwoski said.

Both teams stayed warm by dancing to the music while the facilities crew and coaches, once again, spent time getting the field safe and ready for play.

The re-start of the game was quickly followed by the end.

An errant pitch hit Keilani Finley, loading the bases. Sydney Robey then drew a walk, scoring Sarah Heimbach to give the Bobcats the 2-1 victory.

Game Two began shortly after in an effort to get it in before darkness or more rain played a factor.

Erin Larson drove in a run in the first inning to give the Bobcats a one run buffer that they clung to for the majority of the game.

Casey Herzog took the mound for the Bobcats and dominated, giving up only one hit, an infield single, through six innings.

In the seventh, however, Canisius mounted a comeback. A two-out rally scored three runs for the Golden Griffins, with two doubles and two singles from the bottom half of the lineup.

The Bobcats were unable to convert in the last frame and the Golden Griffins held on to oust Quinnipiac 3-1 in Game Two.

A split against the No. 2 seed aided the Bobcats, as they now sit at a tie for seventh in the conference, just one spot out of the playoffs.

“We are on the cusp of consistently sweeping teams,” Karwoski said.

The head coach knew the win was all mental.

“The girls knew we could compete all along,” Karwoski said. “It [the win] was huge.”

Quinnipiac travels to No. 9 seed Rider on Saturday May 7 for a doubleheader. It then closes out the regular season on Sunday against No. 6 seed Niagara in a doubleheader in Hamden.