Softball falls to Lehigh in weekend doubleheaders

Junior infielder Natasha Miner had three hits in the second game against Lehigh. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

The Lafayette softball team ended a dismal spring season with four losses to rival Lehigh last weekend, with a bright spot being the Senior Day celebration for the three members of the team’s graduating class. Catcher Kaitlyn Rarick, pitcher Hannah Cook and outfielder Paige Grover were honored in a pregame ceremony.

“I think it was one of those really bittersweet moments because we’ve all been playing the game for 15 plus years, and to start and end it together is pretty rare,” Cook said. 

The Mountain Hawks were victorious in both Saturday games at Metzgar Fields, winning 10-0 and 6-2. The losses capped a dreadful season for the Leopards, who went 1-21 with the lone win coming in early April. 

In game one, Lehigh broke open a two-run game with eight runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings. The Mountain Hawks also connected for a solo home run in the first and added a run on a squeeze bunt in the fourth inning. 

The Lafayette offense was held in check, with Lehigh striking out nine and allowing just one walk. Lafayette was limited to just one hit for the game, with sophomore infielder Morgan Olynyk being the only one to get a hit with a second-inning single. 

Game two was a closer battle.

Lafayette freshman starting pitcher Kailee Sawai gave up a two-run home run in the top of the first, but the Leopards managed to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third inning. Freshman outfielder Paige Sandidge reached on a leadoff single and later scored after junior infielder Natasha Miner ripped a two-out double down the left field line. 

In the fifth, Miner came through again to bring the game to a tie. Freshman infielder Kristen Brown drew a leadoff walk and head coach Caitlyn de la Haba chose to insert sophomore outfielder Erica Brasher as a pinch runner. The decision paid off, as fellow sophomore outfielder Jasmine Nguyen bunted Brasher into scoring position and Miner went the opposite way for an RBI single that tied the game at 2-2. 

The visitors recaptured the lead in the sixth with their second two-run home run and did not trail again. 

Olynyk managed her third hit of the game in the bottom half of the inning, and junior outfielder Julia Roman followed with a single. After a sac bunt by Sandidge, Lafayette had runners on second and third before Brown struck out to end the inning. 

Lehigh added on two runs on four singles in the seventh en route to a 6-2 win. 

On Sunday, the Leopards closed out their 2021 season with 9-1 and 8-0 losses to Lehigh. 

In game one, the Mountain Hawks scored each run with two outs in the inning and knocked in six runs against Sawai, who went just two innings. 

The Leopards were limited to just three hits in the game but managed to score in the fourth inning on an RBI single from Roman. The Mountain Hawks scored twice more in the final inning and earned the lopsided win. 

In game two, Lehigh scored all of its offense in the first inning – sending 12 batters to the plate and producing eight runs on eight hits off of Cook. 

Junior pitcher Kinzi Van Wyk, who threw the final two innings of game one, chipped in with a pair of hits in the second game of the series. All told, Lafayette had five hits in the game with Sandidge, Rarick and sophomore infielder Julia Romano all contributing singles.

The Leopards will miss their seniors next year, as Grover, Rarick and Cook were all regular contributors in the starting lineup with Grover finishing as the team’s leading hitter in 2021 with a .327 average. 

“It was sad to know that it was our last weekend but also really great that we were able to do it together,” Cook said. “We had such an outpouring of support and love from all the different players and their families.” 

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