Le Moyne Softball Sweeps Their Way to a Perfect Start at Home


One of the toughest things about playing softball in the Northeast is not only the caliber of opponents, but having to battle the weather as well when it comes to defending your team’s home turf.  After having to play two thirds of their 2018 season on the road, Le Moyne Softball was finally able to open up home play at the Le Moyne Softball Complex this past week, and they did so in style with a pair of sweeps against American International College and Southern Connecticut State.

The Dolphins bats provided the fireworks while their pitching seemed virtually untouchable through all five games.

Le Moyne wasted no time settling in to the home field advantage as it only took them five innings to claim victory in their first game of their home opening doubleheader against American International on Wednesday, Apr. 11.  The Dolphins put up eight runs through the first five innings without surrendering one to the Yellow Jackets, invoking the eight-run rule.

The first time through the lineup for Le Moyne it was easy to get the sense that the Dolphins were just keying in on pitching as several hitters went deep into counts.  Junior right fielder Lauren Zazzaro opened the scoring for Le Moyne in the third with a bang as she launched her sixth home run of the season the opposite way off the scoreboard in right center field.  The Dolphins lead the Northeast-10 Conference in home runs on the season, with Zazzaro tallying over a third of the team’s long balls.

Le Moyne blew the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning following back to back RBI hits off the bats of junior left fielder Madison DeRita and senior pitcher Alexis Eastman capped off by sophomore second baseman Jillian McManus’ fourth home run of the season, a two run shot to deep center.  This was only the second time the Dolphins have hit two or more home runs in a game this season, the only other time coming in their first game of the year against Mercyhurst where they had three.

Alexis Eastman not only provided two RBIs in the game, she pitched a complete game, three hit shutout.  In her first home start of her final season, the Dolphins ace in the circle racked up nine strikeouts while giving up only two walks and only one of AIC’s three hits left the infield.  With the win she moved to an NE-10 Conference best 15-3 on the year and continued to separate herself as the elite strikeout pitcher in the conference.

The second game of the doubleheader against AIC saw much of the same from Le Moyne both at the plate and in the pitching circle.  The Dolphins scored five runs through the first three innings, which proved to be plenty for the Dolphins pitching staff to work with as for the second straight game they did not surrender a run to grab the 5-0 win.

Le Moyne’s starting pitcher sophomore Peyton Bellrose opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first.  In the second, freshman center fielder Kaily LaForce ripped a single back up the middle that plated two more for the Dolphins and extended their lead to 3-0.

Le Moyne added the exclamation point in the bottom of the third as Madison DeRita smacked her first career home run, a two run shot over the left field fence.  This was just one more notch in an impressive home opening performance for the junior right fielder that continued through the weekend.

In the circle for Le Moyne it was the combined efforts of the hard throwing Peyton Bellrose and freshman flamethrower Lauren Nichols that stymied the bats of AIC.  Bellrose started the game by throwing four scoreless innings surrendering only two hits and picking up a strikeout.  Nichols came in to close things out for the Dolphins as through three shut down innings she didn’t give up a hit and struck out six on her way to her second save of her young career.

Riding their red hot efforts at the plate and pitching with surgical precision, Le Moyne opened up a three game division series with the Southern Connecticut State Owls on Friday, Apr. 13, with their third consecutive shutout victory this time by a final of 4-0.  For the conference’s leading pitching staff in both team ERA and strikeouts, this is the first time this year the Dolphins shut out opponents in consecutive games.

Madison DeRita continued her impressive week by extending her hit streak to four games with an RBI single in the bottom of the second to fire the opening salvo for Le Moyne.  Not to be outdone, Lauren Zazarro came up in the bottom of the 4th and launched a no-doubter over the left field fence and down on to Springfield Road to give the Dolphins a 3-0 lead.  Le Moyne would add one more in the 5th on a wild-pitch that scored graduate transfer Kelsey Johnson.

The real story of this one though came in the form of a dominant performance turned in by Alexis Eastman in the circle.  The senior right hander threw her second consecutive complete game shutout and set a new career high in strikeouts fanning 12 on the afternoon.  Eastman didn’t walk a single batter on her way to her 65th career victory at Le Moyne and moved to 16-3 on the season.

In the nightcap, Le Moyne overcame their first real test of the home stand after falling behind in the middle innings.  The Dolphins used patient at bats and smart base running to tie it in the 5th and used their first walk off victory of the season, a frozen rope lined down the left field line by Madison DeRita, to make it four in a row by a final of 4-3.

Le Moyne struck first on back to back doubles in the first inning as Zazzaro drove in sophomore catcher Ally Nicolosi for the game’s first run.  However, the Dolphins would fall behind after SCSU scored their first runs of the day following a Le Moyne error and an RBI double, tallying three runs between the 3rd and 4th innings to take a 3-1 lead.

After a double, an error, an intentional walk and a fielder’s choice the Dolphins had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th with one out and Madison DeRita coming to the plate.  On the first pitch, DeRita lined a shot in the hole between shortstop and third base as the Owls’ shortstop made a great play to get to the ball but through it away into right field in an attempt to get the out at second.  On the wild throw, two runs would score for Le Moyne to even up the score at 3-3.

After Lauren Nichols recorded six straight outs in the circle for Le Moyne, the Dolphins moved into the bottom of the 7th with a chance to win the game.  After two quick outs, Peyton Bellrose took an 0-1 pitch the other way for a double into right center field to put herself in scoring position for who else, but Madison DeRita.  After working herself into a great hitter’s count, DeRita lined the 3-1 pitch down into the left field corner to complete the comeback and pick up another Dolphins win, their fourth in a row and 9th in the last 10 games.

Nichols picked up her fourth win on the season for Le Moyne as she came in and threw 3.2 IP giving up only one hit and striking out seven as she helped her team stay in position to pull off the comeback.

The final game of the weekend was on Saturday morning, Apr. 14th, as the Dolphins left no doubt about who would win the game this time as they exploded for 11 runs in the first four innings, including seven in the first.  Those seven runs are the most that LeMoyne has totaled in a single inning all season long.

Le Moyne’s first five hitters used a pair of two run doubles by Peyton Bellrose and Madison DeRita to take the wind out of Southern Connecticut’s sails before recording the first out of the game.  Those were followed by back to back RBI singles off the bats of sophomore first baseman Taylor Artley and Jill McManus that increased the lead to 6-0 with still only one out in the inning.  Le Moyne would add one more on an RBI groundout by Kelsey Johnson.

Alexis Eastman threw here 3rd complete game in as many starts as she went five innings, striking out five and only allowing a single run that came in the top of the 5th inning.  The Dolphins’ ace is now 17-3 on the season with an impressive 1.58 ERA, 154 strikeouts and only 36 walks surrendered.  Her strikeout total is not only good enough for tops in the NE-10 by over 40, it also places her in the top 15 in the nation.

Le Moyne has been putting their own spin on the old saying, “good things come to those who wait.”  After sweeping the first five games at home, the Dolphins get to stay on the heights for seven more consecutive games before having to finish the year off on the road again.  This is a Dolphins team that only a year ago was 6-6 at home on the season, but this year the team seems to have a slightly different edge to them.

The Dolphins have now pulled even in the Southwest Division of the NE-10 with rival Adelphi, with a huge three game series between the two looming to cap off the Le Moyne home stand starting Saturday, Apr. 21.  This three game series will decide who has home field advantage in the playoffs, which at this point seems to be a recipe for success for Le Moyne.

You can catch Le Moyne Softball’s (26-8, 12-5 NE-10) doubleheader with Saint Rose on Thursday, April 19, starting at 3 PM and their series finale with Adelphi on Sunday, April 22, live on PhinsRadio, or come on down to the field and cheer on your ‘Phins.  As always, you can keep up with the latest stats, scores, and updates on all Le Moyne Athletics at lemoynedolphins.com.