Softball: Cadets sweep Lasers in GNAC DH

Naomi Rinaldo softball action

NEWTON, Mass. - The Norwich University softball team picked up a crucial sweep of Lasell College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.

Norwich (10-12, 4-6 GNAC) snapped a six-game winless skid with two huge wins to keep the Cadets in fourth place in the GNAC North division standings, one spot ahead of fifth place Rivier for the final qualifying spot.

Senior designated hitter Naomi Rinaldo (Middlefield, Conn.) went 4-for-8 with two RBIs and hit her team-leading third home run of the season to lead the Cadets' offense. Sophomore Elizabeth Niven (Londonderry, N.H.) went 4-for-7 with a RBI as well.

Norwich used big final innings in both games to pick up the crucial victories. The Cadets scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie in Game 1. In Game 2, NU scored twice in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 2-2 after trailing the whole game and then added three more in the top of the eighth to pull away for the win.

Rinaldo gave NU a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth in Game 1 with a solo home run, but Lasell (5-23, 2-8 GNAC) countered with a RBI double by Ariana Genovese to score Victoria Spellman.

Norwich took the lead in the top of the seventh with a RBI single by Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) that scored Kaylee Blanchard (Worcester, Mass.). Freshman Dara Kelly (Chesterfield, N.J.) hit a sacrafice fly to centerfield that scored Makenna Wade (Saint Johns, Fla.). Oliver also scored on the play after a throwing error skipped into left field that allowed Oliver to trot home for the fifth NU run. 

Brittany Vandergroef (Lodi, N.J.) picked up the win in the circle, throwing three shutout innings, scattering three hits and walking one to improve to 3-3 on the season.

In Game 2, Lasell scored runs in the bottom of the first and third inning to take a 2-0 lead that the Lasers would hold until the top of the seventh inning. Wade picked up a huge two-run single down the right field line to score Blanchard and Niven to tie up the game though. 

Norwich capitalized on the international tie-breaker rule in the top of the eighth inning with Reid reaching on a fielding error that ended up scoring Kelly and Niven. Niven also singled through the left side of the infield to score Reid for an unearned run to cap the scoring.

Oliver came on in relief, throwing six innings and giving up one unearned run on three hits, while striking out five. She improved to 7-6 on the season in the circle. 

Norwich returns home to the NU Softball Field to host Regis (Mass.) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in another GNAC doubleheader. Norwich needs a combination of three wins or Rivier losses to clinch a spot in the 2019 GNAC Tournament. The Cadets will host Simmons on Friday, April 26, before traveling to Rivier on Saturday, April 27 to close the the regular season.