Buffalo, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Entering its fifth straight year of postseason competition, Siena Softball (29-22) battled to keep its season alive in the 2022 MAAC Softball Championship at the Demske Sports Complex in Buffalo, New York. The #3 seed Saints took a 7-5 loss to #6 Iona before defeating #4 Rider, 6-1, in an elimination game to advance to day two.

Siena recorded its sixth-ever win in the postseason, including its first since May 8, 2019, while tying the program single season record for wins in the process. The Saints advance to game six in the tournament to play the loser of tomorrow’s winner’s bracket battle between #2 Fairfield and #6 Iona.

#6 Iona 7, #3 Siena 5

Facing off against the Gaels in the postseason for the first time since 2015, Siena struck first in the bottom of the opening inning, with sophomore Mikala Fletcher sending an RBI single to left center to plate classmate Isabella Pardo. Iona responded with a crooked inning in the top of the second to jump out to a 4-1 lead thanks to a run scoring on a fielding error and a three-run home run from First Team All-MAAC selection Jessica Chilcott.

Both teams engaged in a duel defensively through the game’s opening innings, with Iona’s Kara Zazzaro striking out seven batters over five and one-third total innings and MAAC All-Rookie Team selection Adriana Romano (8-6) fanning six in six innings of work, which placed her inside the program’s top-5 in single-season strikeouts. Siena went on to retire ten straight batters defensively, which allowed the Saints to knot the game at four in the home half of the fifth. Fletcher sent a double to left center field to score Pardo once again, while freshman Ashley Giampolo plated Fletcher on an RBI single.

After handing the ball to winning pitcher Samantha Rieb (7-9), Iona again pieced together a turnaround inning in the sixth, using a solo home run, fielder’s choice, and RBI single to take a 7-4 lead. Junior Jocelyn Ulrich singled up the middle to score classmate Antonia Alba in the bottom of the sixth, but the Saints could not complete a comeback bid the following inning. Zazzaro accomplished a rare feat for Iona, re-entering the game to earn the save after having started and come out in the sixth inning. Pardo and Fletcher knocked three hits apiece to lead the Saints, who out-hit Iona, 12-5, offensively.

#3 Siena 7, #4 Rider 1

The Saints’ offense came to life in the final game of the day, which pitted them against Rider in postseason action for the first time ever. Following two scoreless innings to start the game, the Saints took a three-run lead in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI single from Pardo which scored senior Sabrina Vargas, a double steal to bring Pardo home, and a throwing error that allowed Fletcher to score. Rider answered with what would be its only postseason run off an RBI double in the top of the fourth.

Working behind three no-decision innings from junior Nicole Patille which featured a pair of strikeouts and four strikeouts over three innings from Romano (9-6), the Saints added insurance runs in the latter innings, beginning with a bases-loaded blast from senior Ava Fitzmaurice to right field that plated all three runs. Junior Jocelyn Ulrich singled up the middle in the sixth to bring Pardo home once again. After turning in a pair of three-hit performances, Pardo now holds the second-most hits in a single season for the Saints at 65, and can tie program great Madysen Cossack’s single-season record tomorrow. The effort allowed Siena to land its first-ever win against the tournament’s number four seed.

Siena will look to continue action at the double-elimination 2022 MAAC Softball Championship at 4 PM on Thursday, May 12. With a win, the Saints will advance to play on Friday, May 13 at 1:30 PM. 

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Liana Bonavita
Griffin Haas
Jared Phillips