CASTLETON, Vt. – Sara Baker's one-out grand slam in the bottom of the seventh in game two salvaged a tie for the Castleton softball team on Wednesday evening, as the Spartans dropped game one against Plymouth State before coming back from a four-run deficit in the second game of the day.
The Spartans fell 7-5 in the rain-soaked opener, before game two was called a 5-5 draw after seven innings due to darkness. Castleton moves to 10-7-1 on the season, while Plymouth State moves to 16-13-1 on the year. The tie is Castleton's first since 2004 when it played Skidmore to a 6-6 final.
Baker hit her fourth home run of the season, tying the score a 5-5 with one out in the seventh inning of the second game. The rookie went 2-for-6 on the day, with both of her hits going for extra bases. She also drove in six of Castleton's 10 combined runs. Timi Carone paced the team with a 3-for-6 day out of the leadoff spot, registering a pair of triples and an RBI. Taylor Paquette shouldered the loss in relief in game one, before going the distance in game two for a total of 9.0 innings on the day.
Jen Landers and Abrie Davis each had three hits on the day for the Panthers, with Davis also driving in three runs. Lindsey Hall drove in three runs of her own, and Emma Rhodes hit what turned out to be a key two-run home run in the top of the 7th in game two for Plymouth St. Four different players scored two runs for the Panthers in the contest. Hannah Seidner picked up the win in game one, going 5.2 strong innings in relief, not allowing a run and striking out four. Allison Moylan went the distance in game two, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks.
Game one opened with Plymouth St. jumping out to a quick, 2-0 lead, as the Panthers struck for a pair of runs right out of the gates. Two walks gave the visitors runners on first and second with one out, before Davis cranked a double to the fence in right center field to score both runners. Kayla Wood settled in and got the next two batters to limit the damage.
Castleton answered swiftly, plating three runs to take the lead in the home half of the inning. Carone led off with a triple to the fence in right field, and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Baker. Two batters later, Jordan Gouger sent a ball to the fence in left center field for a two-run double, giving Castleton a 3-2 lead after an inning of play.
Wood set down the Panthers 1-2-3 in the second inning, and the Spartans extended their lead to 5-2 in the second, when Baker doubled home Sami Carlo before McKinlie Carpenter notched an RBI single through the left side of the infield to score Kayley Fountain.
Each pitcher worked 1-2-3 innings in the third, but Plymouth St. tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth inning to close the gap to 5-4. After the first two runners of the inning reached base, Hall tagged a double to left field, scoring both and making it just a one-run game.
The Spartans put the first two batters of the bottom of the fourth on base, but couldn't cash in as the next three batters went down in order to keep the lead at one run. Plymouth St. took advantage, tying the game in the top of the fifth inning on an RBI single by Davis, making it 5-5.
Castleton again was set down 1-2-3 in the fifth inning, and the Panthers quickly put up two runs in the top of the sixth after Paquette came on in relief of Wood. With one out and runners at second and third, Autumn Beyor registered a sacrifice fly to give Plymouth St. its first lead since the opening inning, and Katie Kennard tacked on an RBI single and an insurance run to make it 7-5 before Paquette worked out of the jam, a score that held until the last out.
Game two was more of the same early on, as the Panthers struck for two runs in the top of the first inning. Both runs came with two outs in the inning, as Mel Goss tallied an RBI single down the left field line, and Hall tagged a base hit into center field to score a run before Paquette got out of the inning.
Both pitchers then traded zeros until the bottom of the third, when Carone hit a ball to the fence in right field for her second triple of the day to score Carlo from first base and cut the deficit to just one run, 2-1. Paquette continued to stifle the Panthers' bats until the top of the sixth inning, keeping the Spartans in the game.
In the sixth, Plymouth St. extended its lead to 3-1 on an RBI base hit by Nina Murray, but that was all the Panthers could manage as Paquette retired the next batter to end the inning.
Entering the final inning of play trailing by two runs, the Spartans looked to keep the score close to finish the contest. Rhodes had other ideas, however, launching a two-run shot with one out in the inning to push her squad's lead to 5-1 with darkness setting in at Spartan Field.
Down to its final outs of the game, Castleton continued grinding away. Brooke Naylor led off the seventh with a double, before Carlo reached first base on a strikeout and wild pitch. After Carone walked to load the bases, Baker stepped in an delivered one of her biggest hits all season—a line drive grand slam to right center field that tied the game at 5-5. The next two Spartans were set down in order to end the inning and the game, as the umpires called the contest due to darkness.
Castleton is right back at it on Thursday, hosting Southern Vermont in a non-conference doubleheader beginning at 3:30 p.m.