STANDISH, Maine – The Norwich University softball team outhit Simmons 8-5 on Friday afternoon at the Richard W. Bailey Softball Field on the campus of Saint Joseph's (Maine). But, it wasn't enough as the Cadets fell 1-0 to the Sharks to drop into the loser's bracket of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament.
Simmons sophomore Christina Mulcahy provided the game's lone run with a RBI single to left centerfield to plate Emily Cunningham in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a scoreless tie and give the Sharks' starting pitcher Lauren Backhaus all the run support she would need.
Norwich (21-15) threatened in its final at bats in the top of the seventh inning by loading the bases for sophomore Briana Day (Yelm, Wash.). However, Backhaus bore down and was able to get Day to pop up to shortstop to stifle the Cadets' last attempt to push across the tying run.
Backhaus and Norwich freshman pitcher Corinne Baita (Rochester, N.H.) locked up in a dandy of a pitcher's duel with each pitcher matching zeroes for the first five innings.
The Cadets threatened to break the deadlock in the top of the sixth inning when junior second baseman Noel Byers (Iron Mountain, Mich.) laced a double into the right centerfield gap to lead off the frame. After Day popped up a bunt attempt, freshman Melissa Rome (Enfield, Conn) reached on an infield single to put runners on first and third with just one out.
Rome stole second base to put two runners in scoring position with Baita coming to the plate with a chance to help herself out. But, once again Backhaus escaped out of the jam by striking out Baita looking, and then getting Maggie Walsh (North Plainfield, N.J.) to ground out back to her.
Backhaus finished the game with 13 strike outs, including recording the first eight put outs all by way of the strikeout. She scattered eight hits and walked one to improve to 13-7 on the year. Baita took the loss, snapping her five-game win streak to fall to 13-7 on the season as well. She gave up one run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven.
Norwich is now one loss away from elimination in the 2012 GNAC Tournament. The Cadets will travel down to Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. while they await their next opponent, which will be the loser of the St. Joseph (Conn.)/Emerson winner's bracket semifinal game.
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