Pirates’ bats silenced in loss to St. John’s

With their Big East Tournament hopes hanging in the balance, the Pirates got off on the wrong foot Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 loss to the St. John’s Red Storm.

Offense has been the story for the Pirates this season, but on Saturday it was the exact opposite, as the offense could only muster one hit on the day. That hit was a solo home run off the bat of Noel Lent in the fourth inning which put the Pirates up 1-0 at the time.

Photo via SHU Athletics

Seton Hall starter Lauren Fischer brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning with the Pirates still leading, but the tides turned quickly. Fischer’s no-no was broken up on a bunt single by Monique Landini, and following a sacrifice bunt, Krystal Puga launched a two-run home run to right-center field to put the Red Storm up 2-1. The home run ended up being the deciding factor, as McKenzie Murray came on for St. John’s to get the final six outs to secure the victory.

Tori Free got the start for St. John’s and went the first five innings allowing the lone hit of the day for the Pirates. Free walked five batters but was able to use off-speed pitches to work herself out of jams while racking up six strikeouts.

“I gotta say hats off to St. John’s pitchers,” head coach Paige Smith said about the Pirates’ quiet day offensively. “[Free] is a fifth-year senior and she’s throwing like she should as a fifth-year senior.”

Senior Lauren Fischer got the start in the circle for the Hall, toeing the rubber for the first time since April 23 against Providence. Fischer was electric as she threw seven innings of four-hit softball while striking out five.

“We know that when the season’s on the line, you throw everything to your senior,” Smith said. “She’s been a workhorse for us all year and when she’s healthy, she throws like that.”

With their conference record now at 7-12, the Pirates need wins and help from other Big East teams for them to reach the Big East Tournament. Currently, the Pirates sit in seventh place, with Creighton, Providence and Butler all vying for the fourth spot in the conference standings.

Sunday is senior day for the team, as six Pirates will play their final game at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field.

“It’s going to be an emotional day,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things where us as coaches, we almost wish that we didn’t have senior events on game days because it’s so hard to focus on the game.”

Fischer, Lent, Valerie Suto, Chelsea Caynon, Jennifer Sanislo and Joelle Arrante will hit the field in Newark for the final time tomorrow as the Pirates close out the regular season with a doubleheader against St. John’s. First pitch is set for 12 p.m.

Matt Ambrose can be reached at matthew.ambrose1@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @mambrose97.