Last Saturday, it was a two-run homer from sophomore first baseman Victoria Gunnels, a Mepham High School graduate, that unknotted a tie in the sixth inning, and eventually sent the second-seeded Molloy College softball team to its third consecutive East Coast Conference Championship with a 4-1 victory against No. 1-seed LIU Post.
Junior designated player Dayna White led off the sixth with an infield single. Though Gunnels twice failed to advance her into scoring position with a bunt attempt, she ripped a two-strike pitch over the left-field fence to give the Lions the lead for good. Junior shortstop Nicolette Sinagra would later add an RBI single to right for some insurance.
Molloy (47-12) opened the scoring an inning earlier, capitalizing on a pair of LIU Post miscues to plate a run. Senior outfielder Lauren Alexander reached second on a two-base error. Two batters later, an Alexander steal, along with a throwing error put the Lions in front 1-0.
The Pioneers answered in the bottom half of the frame though to deadlock the score. Swantek drilled a full-count offering from senior pitcher Kelley Jansen, a Long Beach High School graduate, to the left-field bleachers to even the contest.
LIU Post also had an opportunity to tie things up again in its half of the sixth. With the bases full, and one out, Jansen got potential go-ahead runs Alyson Dzierzynski and freshman Maria Palmeri to strike out, and foul out, respectively, to end the threat.
In the seventh, Jansen retired the side in order. The game culminated in a title celebration by Molloy after a pop-up was gloved by freshman catcher Milan Botte in foul territory for the final out.
Jansen got the win. She threw a complete-game two-hitter, yielding just one run and three walks, with 11 strikeouts. Her teammate, senior pitcher Megan Butterworth, from North Bellmore and Holy Trinity High School, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
Head Coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke and the Lions now await their seeding in the NCAA Division II East Region Championship.