Stonehill Opens Home Slate With Two Wins Over Merrimack

Junior Lauren Esposito went 4-for-6 with two RBI as Stonehill defeated Merrimack twice today.

Junior Sarah Ropiak throws 11 shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing just four hits

EASTON, Mass. (April 10, 2015) – Led by two dominant pitching performances from junior Sarah Ropiak (Acton, Massachusetts/Acton-Boxborough), the Stonehill College softball team opened the home portion of its 2015 schedule with a pair of Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division victories over Merrimack College this afternoon at Gartland Field. Stonehill shut out Merrimack 6-0 in the opener, before rallying for an 8-4 victory in game two.

Ropiak tossed 11 shutout innings over the course of the doubleheader, striking out nine while allowing just four hits. The junior also went 1-for-3 at the plate, recorded two sacrifices and scored one run.

Junior Lauren Esposito (Middlefield, Connecticut/Coginchaug) led Stonehill offensively, going 4-for-6 with two RBI, while classmate Megan Staudle (New Windsor, New York/Cornwall Central) doubled, hit a grand slam, and drove in six runs. Sophomores Cassandra Squeri (New Providence, New Jersey/New Providence) and Michelle Carbone (Deer Park, New York/St. Anthony's) recorded three hits each, and junior Megan Ruonavaara (Rocky Hill, Connecticut/Rocky Hill) went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, two RBI, and two runs.

Senior Stephanie Lapierre (Berlin, Connecticut/Berlin) accounted for four of Merrimack's ten hits today, while classmate Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Massachusetts/Acton-Boxborough) and sophomore Samantha Waskowitz (Killingworth, Connecticut/Haddam Killingworth) each hit a two-run homer in game two.

Stonehill 6, Merrimack 0

Ropiak stifled the Warriors with her third complete game shutout of the season in the opener, while Staudle, Ruonavaara and sophomore Jacklyn Oleksak (Massapequa, New York/Plainedge) provided the offense for Stonehill.

After three scoreless frames, the Skyhawks scored twice in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Cayleigh McCarthy (Norfolk, Massachusetts/King Phillip) walked with one out, and Ropiak followed with a single. Ruonavaara came up next and hit a line drive off the center field fence, plating McCarthy, before Oleksak's RBI single gave Stonehill a 2-0 lead.

With the Skyhawks still clinging to their two-run edge in the bottom of the sixth, Staudle provided some breathing room with a grand slam, her first home run of the season. Ropiak retired Merrimack in order in the seventh as Stonehill secured its first conference victory of 2015.


Stonehill 8, Merrimack 4

After being held to just two hits in the opener, Merrimack scored four runs on six hits through the first three innings of game two, before Ropiak came on in relief and allowed just two hits over the final four frames to help Stonehill complete the doubleheader sweep.

The Skyhawks used two hits and two errors to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Merrimack answered with four runs in the top of the third, as Waskowitz and Gibbs each belted two-run homers in the frame.

Trailing for the first time all day, Stonehill put four of its own runs on the board in the bottom of the third to regain a 7-4 lead. Carbone got it started with a single up the middle, and Squeri followed with another single, moving Carbone up to third. After a walk by Oleksak two batters later loaded the bases, freshman Erin Brayden (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) recorded her first career RBI as she was hit by a pitch. Esposito came up next and plated two more runs with a single to left center, and later in the inning Staudle was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in another run. Stonehill capped the scoring in the fifth on Staudle's RBI double, and Ropiak was solid the rest of the way, picking up her second win of the day.

Stonehill (8-8, 2-2 NE-10) will be right back in action tomorrow, as the Skyhawks are set to host Saint Michael's College for a 3 p.m. contest at Gartland Field. Merrimack (10-14, 3-3 NE-10) returns home tomorrow to host No. 18 Southern New Hampshire University for a doubleheader at noon.

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