NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Heading into the last week of the season the Norwich University softball team is on the outside looking in for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) playoffs.
However, the Cadets got a much needed doubleheader sweep of Anna Maria College on Tuesday afternoon to stay relevant with six games to go in the regular season.
Norwich (8-14, 6-12 GNAC) mercy-ruled the AMCATS 11-3 in Game 1, highlighted by a grand slam from junior Naomi Rinaldo (Middlefield, Conn.) in the bottom of the second inning to make it 6-0 Norwich at the time.
The Cadets battled through a slow start in Game 2 where they fell behind 3-0 and were no-hit through three innings to come back and win 5-3 to clinch the crucial sweep.
Errors plagued Anna Maria in the first game as the AMCATS committed four errors that led to 10 unearned runs on the day, including Rinaldo's grand slam.
Sophomores Makenna Wade (Pensacola, Fla.) and Katie Reid (Gold Canyon, Ariz.), as well as Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) each added two hits to lead the Norwich offense in the first game. Reid had two RBIs, while Jenna Sprague (Brookfield, Vt.) and Brittany Vandergroef (Lodi, N.J.) each had one. Sprague scored a team-leading three runs in the game.
Oliver picked up the victory on the mound to improve to 4-7, giving up four hits and no earned runs on two walks and three strikeouts.
In Game 2, Kathryn Rendock stymied the Norwich bats for three innings, not surrendering a hit and allowing the AMCATS to build up a 3-0 lead with runs in the top of the third and then two in the fourth.
Rendock had two hits at the plate to help herself and then Victoria Falco added two more and a RBI.
However, the Cadets finally started the comeback in the bottom of the fourth with two runs and then three more in the bottom of the fifth to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Rinaldo got things going with a RBI single to score Sprague. Oliver then plated Rinaldo with a ground out to third base to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Wade singled to left to score Madison Miller (Long Lake, N.Y.) in the bottom of the fifth and then Sprague hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Madelyn Folcik (Wilmot, N.H.). Rinaldo capped the scoring with a single to score Wade.
Sprague picked up her first collegiate victory after coming on in relief and allowing just one hit over three innings.
Norwich continues its busy final week with a road trip to Regis (Mass.) tomorrow to take on the Pride for the first time at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Cadets play their regular season home finale on Friday when they host Lasell at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the NU Softball Field.