A three-run second inning for the Iona Gaels is what it took to beat the Seton Hall softball team, 3-2, at Mike Sheppard, Sr. Field on Wednesday afternoon.
The rally by Iona came with controversy, as a pitch by Pirates starter Madison Strunk appeared to hit the knob of Sarah Schutz’s bat. The home plate umpire ruled that it hit Schutz and upheld the call when discussing it with the other two umpires. Head coach Paige Smith said there was no doubt the ball hit the bat rather than Schutz.
“The most amazing part is that the Iona coach and (Schutz) said that it hit the bat,” Smith said after the game.
The next batter for Iona, Brianna King, hit the ball to shortstop Ragen Reddick and threw it out of reach from catcher Destini Peck for the first run. Later in the inning, Iona’s Ashlyn Morris hit a chopper back to Strunk and beat out the throw, allowing Schutz to score, pushing the score to 3-0 for the Gaels.
Despite those two plays, Smith praised her team for playing “fantastic, lockdown defense.” Strunk also pitched a solid game, giving up only five hits and striking out eight in seven innings.
Iona’s Christine Costello also gave up five hits and struck out eight. Her only tough inning was the seventh when Seton Hall tried to make a comeback.
Alexis Walkden started the rally with a one-out single and stolen base. Brianna Wallace came in as a pinch-hitter and drove in Walkden with a double. Alyssa Prukop, who was put in the game in the fifth inning, came through with an RBI single to make it a one-run game. Alannah Basile also came in to pinch-hit but grounded out to Costello to end the game.
“Too little too late,” Smith said.
Smith said that the hit-by-pitch call certainly changed the outcome of the game, but also said that the team should have overcome it.
“It’s human error,” she said. “(Those calls) are going to happen, and we need to be better than that.”
Smith also gave credit to Iona, saying that the school’s 6-16 record is not reflective of its play, citing a tough out-of-conference schedule. Nonetheless, the Gaels’ win against the Pirates on Wednesday snaps their seven-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, the 19-15 Pirates are set to resume conference play with a three-game series against Creighton. The first two games will take place on Saturday starting at 12 p.m. at home.
Anthony Di Paolo can be reached at Anthony.firstname.lastname@example.org.