Garnet Keep the Dream Alive

GWYNEDD VALLEY, Pa. – Timely hitting and another strong pitching performance sent Swarthmore to its first post-season victory in program history. The No.6-seed Garnet upset No. 4-seed Gwynedd-Mercy, 8-5, in the first round of the E.C.A.C. Division III South Region Softball Tournament Wednesday afternoon.

“These women are genuinely excited to be part of another milestone for Swarthmore softball,” said Garnet head coach Renee Clarke.

The Garnet (22-18) advance to this weekend’s double-elimination E.C.A.C. South Championship at Washington & Jefferson, facing top-seeded Misericordia on Saturday, May 10 at 10:00 a.m.

Click here for the ECAC Division III South Region Softball Championships web site.

Garnet sophomore right-hander Kathryn Riley (Dagsboro, Del. / Indian River) struck out 12 Griffin hitters on the way to her school-record 17th victory. Riley also did solid work with the bat, going 2-for-2 with two runs and a run batted in while senior Katherine Gold (Cherry Hill, N.J. / Cherry Hill East) drove in two runs on two hits.

Swarthmore junior outfielder Kristin Caspar (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. / Briarcliff) drove in two runs and scored one time while freshman Melissa Emmerson (Ringwood, N.J. / Lakeland Regional) added a pair of hits with a run and an RBI.

Timely hitting started early for the Swarthmore offense. Two-time All-Region selection Christine Sendelsky (Edison, N.J. / John P. Stevens) roped a two-out double down the left field line in the top of the first, driving home Riley for a 1-0 Garnet lead.

The Griffins (22-16) tied the game in the bottom half of the inning but the Garnet came re-took the lead when Gold drove in sophomore outfielder Monica Cody (Torrance, Calif. / Marymount) with a single to left field in the third inning.

Gwynedd-Mercy assumed their first lead of the afternoon in their next at-bat. Senior outfielder Jayme DiLeonardon (Southampton, N.J. / Lenape) plated two runs with a triple the power alley in left, giving the hometown Griffins in front 3-2.

The bright sun in suburban Philadelphia bore down on the Garnet, yet rather than wilt the players, it seemed to heat up their bats.

“Our demeanor remained calm throughout,” said Clarke. “The team was focused right off the bus; I knew this game was ours to win.”

Swarthmore scored five times in the top of the fourth to blow the game open. Emmerson led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt attempt by freshman Krista Scheirer (Norristown, Pa. / Germantown Academy). The Griffins fumbled the ball on the bunt coverage, giving Swarthmore runners at the corners.

The Garnet continued the small-ball as freshman Maggie Vizcarra (Long Beach, Calif. / Long Beach Polytechnic) dropped a text-book bunt down, putting two runners in scoring position. Caspar made the strategy hold up, flipping a single into center to drive in Emmerson and Scheirer to put Swarthmore back in front, 4-3. After a Cody sacrifice bunt, junior captain Lauren Walker (Fallston, Md. / The Hotchkiss School) and Riley followed with back-to-back RBI doubles and Gold added another RBI base hit as the Garnet lead grew to 7-3.

Emmerson drove in the final Swarthmore run in the top of the seventh, singling to center, driving in pinch runner Zoe Hendrickson (Strattford, N.H. / Coe-Brown Northwood Academy).

Riley (17-9), twice named All-Region as well, pitched all seven innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits while walking just two. The 12 K’s ties her season-high and marks the fifth time she has hit double-digits in strikeouts this season. Her 17 wins break the previous school record of 16 held by Barbara Schafer ’90 (set in 1988).

Click here for the full box score.

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