CLERMONT, Fla. -- The St. Lawrence University softball team split with its competition in the first day of springs games at the National Training Center.
The Saints opened the day with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Manhattanville in the early afternoon game, but suffered a 6-0 loss to Case Western Reserve in the night cap to move to 1-1 on the young season.
"Taking into account the level of competition we will face in this tournament, I'm really pleased with our play on our first day out on dirt," said St. Lawrence head coach Elisa Van Kirk, who earned her first career win at the helm of a program.
"I was proud of the way we battled back in the first game. Against a strong Case Western team in the second game, it shows us what we need to work on. Overall, it was a great first day."
In the first game of the day, Manhattanville opened up to a 3-0 lead when they strung together four hits in the second inning, two of which were for extra bases.
Senior pitcher Liz McGinley and the Saints, however, shook their nerves and battled back, first cutting into the deficit in the fourth inning when Lauren Weisbarth and Chelsea Cavellier each drew walks with two outs.
McGinley helped her own cause, sending an RBI single to left field that scored Weisbarth, bringing the score to 3-1. After holding off a two-out push by Manhattanville in the bottom of the fourth, the Saints would score two runs in the fifth to tie the game, 3-3.
Caroline Kieltyka drew a lead-off walk and was moved to second on a sac bunt by Cailyn Welsh. With Natasha Bell coming in as a pinch runner for Kieltyka, Leslie Stratton hit a hard ball to third base and reached on a fielding error that would prove costly for the Valiants.
After Stratton stole second, Aisha O'Connor battled off several pitches at the plate before delivering a 2 RBI single to centerfield, plating both Bell and Stratton to knot the game.
In the seventh inning, first-year student Audra Caine drew a walk, Stratton followed with single to centerfield, and then O'Connor drew a walk to load the bases.
Weisbarth came to the plate and delivered a single through the left side that brought Caine home to put the Saints ahead 4-3.
Though Manhattanville's Van Galen got on base with a hit in the seventh inning, Caine's run proved to be the game-winner as St. Lawrence made the final two outs to preserve their 4-3 victory. McGinley and St. Lawrence's defense were stellar over the last five innings, holding Manhattanville scoreless and stranding seven Valiants on base.
After giving up five hits in the first two innings, McGinley settled down and scattered six hits the rest of the way, recording a career-high 10 strikeouts to earn her first win of the season. Weisbarth was 1-for-3 for the Saints with a run and an RBI, while O'Connor was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Stratton added a hit and a run against Manhattanville. In the nightcap, St. Lawrence was unable to muster up much offensively, as Case-Western's pitcher Rebecca Taylor allowed just four hits and struck out 11.
The Spartans opened the scoring in the first inning when they took advantage of walks and a catcher's interference to take a 1-0 lead.
Saints pitcher Kyle Plimpton scattered three hits over the next four innings, but the Spartans exploded for five runs in the top of the fifth inning to stretch their lead to 6-0. Plimpton allowed nine hits and struck out nine batters in the loss.
Stratton accounted for three of St. Lawrence's four hits as she went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double. Weisbarth singled to right field in the seventh inning for the Saints' fourth hit.
The Saints will be back in action tomorrow evening when they face Monmouth (IL) at 5pm followed by Becker (MA) at 7pm.