This season's favorite Fairfield and defending champion Iona split an intense MAAC doubleheader Saturday in New Rochelle, NY
Game one was the MAAC regular season opener for both teams, but it seemed more like a continuation of their MAAC Tournament battles of the recent past. Iona went with surprise starter Beth Kann in the circle, fresh off an impressive performance at Hofstra. Fairfield went with the MAAC's ERA leader Rae Ball, and the game was scoreless through two innings. It was the Stags who struck first, in the top of the third inning. Kristen Filicia singled, followed by a walk to Lauren Liseth. The Gaels would not pitch to the conference's top hitter in this game, giving her four free passes. A passed ball sent the runners to second and third, and Carly Argyle came in to pitch for Iona. An Allie Hand error scored one run; then Nicole Capra (pictured) singled to give Fairfield a 2-0 lead. The Stags tried to score another by sending Rae Ball home on a ground ball, but second baseman Allie Hand threw her out at the plate to keep the game close. Iona tied the game in the bottom of the same inning on Katie Jansson's two out, two RBI double. Fairfield's Lauren Filicia attempted to steal home in the fifth inning after a passed ball, but was tagged out by catcher Katie Jansson, and the game remained tied entering the seventh inning. Lauren Liseth led off that inning for the Stags, and Iona elected to walk her once again. The move backfired on the Gaels, as Lauren would score the winning run after a single by Lauren Filicia and an RBI sacrifice fly by Nicole Capra. Rae Ball retired the Gaels in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to earn the 3-2 win. Carly Argyle was saddled with the loss in relief. For Fairfield, Kristen Filicia was 3 for 4; Nicole Capra had two RBIs. For Iona, Katie Jansson was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, Jodi Petersen had two hits.
Game two saw Iona play their best game of the season, snapping a 15 game losing streak with a 6-2 win. It also showed that the Gaels will refuse to relinquish their title without a fight. And with Iona legend Sarah Jackson in attendance, Carly Argyle pitched maybe the best game of her career, holding the high power Stags to five hits; and Lauren Liseth to none. The Stags took the quick 1-0 lead when yes, Lauren Liseth was intentionally walked with two outs but scored anyway. Taylor August singled her to second base, and Lauren Filicia singled her home. I doubt Lauren Liseth has gotten as much respect in her life as she got today at the Rice Oval! But the Fairfield lead was short lived, as Iona exploded for a four run tally in the bottom of the same inning. This was when freshman Sarah Schutz (pictured) began the game of her young career. Fairfield starter Becca Trott had loaded the bases with three walks, and with two outs, Sarah cranked a double to deep left field that emptied the bases. A Carly Argyle single scored Sarah, and the Gaels had a 4-1 lead after an inning of play. Kimi Kurata's fourth inning home run blast cut the lead to 4-2, but the Stags would get no closer. In the bottom of the fifth inning, speedy Allie Hand led off with a triple to center field. The Gaels were hoping to get one run; they got two. Sarah Schutz creamed a pitch over the right field fence, and Iona was up 6-2. Carly Argyle shut the door on Fairfield the rest of the way, including Lauren Liseth in the seventh inning; it was a signature win for the Gaels who now must feel that they can beat anyone in the MAAC. Sarah Schutz had five RBIs in the game; she entered it with two for the season. Beth Kann had two hits also for the Gaels. Lauren Filicia had two hits for the Stags. Both teams are 1-1 in the MAAC.