Valeriano Tosses Shutout as Knights Split with Mercy in ECC Opener

Valeriano Tosses Shutout as Knights Split with Mercy in ECC Opener

YAPHANK, N.Y. – Junior ToniMarie Valeriano pitched a complete game shutout to lead the Queens College softball team to victory in game one, as the Knights split a doubleheader with the Mercy College Mavericks in their East Coast Conference (ECC) opener on Wednesday afternoon. The Knights hung on for a 1-0 win in the opening game before falling, 15-2, in the second game.

Queens 1, Mercy 0
Valeriano (2-0) shut the Mavericks down in the first game, going the full seven innings in the circle. She collected six strikeouts over the first four innings, while giving up just four hits and one walk en route to the shutout victory.

It was a pitching duel for the most part, as both teams combined for four hits apiece. Kaylee Stevens also pitched a gem for the Mavericks, striking out eight and surrendering the game's lone run, but was handed the loss.

The scoreless tie finally broke in the top of the sixth inning, with senior Stevianne Ognibene coming through in the clutch. Sophomore Nicole Michaels led off with a single down the left field line and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by junior Alyssa Neal. Up next was Ognibene, who delivered an RBI double to center, bringing in Michaels for the go-ahead run.

Mercy threatened with two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Valeriano worked her way out of the jam to capture the victory.

Michaels went 2-for-2 to lead the Knights at the plate, while Ognibene and Valeriano registered the other two hits.

Mercy 15, Queens 2 (F/5)
Queens kept the momentum rolling at the beginning of the second game. The Knights jumped on the board first in the top of the opening inning to take a 2-0 lead.

Neal hit a leadoff single to right center, and Ognibene reached base in the next at-bat. Then with Neal and Ognibene both in scoring position, senior Kayla Morrissey reached on an error, as Neal came in for the game's first run. Junior Vanessa Juengerkes followed with an RBI double down the left field line, bringing in Ognibene and giving Queens a quick 2-0 advantage.

However, Mercy's bats came alive in game two, getting the best of Queens' pitchers Juengerkes and Morgan Starley. The Mavericks immediately responded in the bottom half of the inning with seven runs to take a five-run lead and then followed with four more runs in the bottom of the second to take a commanding 11-2 lead. Mercy scored four more in the bottom of the fourth inning, ultimately leading to the 15-2 final.

The Mavericks registered 12 hits, while the Knights tallied five hits and were hurt by five errors. Janelle Wade, Morgan Lloyd, Cassidy Wootten and Kendall Meeks each recorded multi-hit games for Mercy. Jackie Kielty improved to 3-0 in the circle for the Mavericks, while Juengerkes (2-2) got the loss. For the Knights, Neal went 1-for-2 with a run and a walk. Valeriano, Morrissey, Juengerkes and Michaels each tallied a hit for Queens.

Queens (4-2, 1-1 ECC) will hit the road for ECC doubleheaders against Bridgeport and LIU Post this weekend. The Knights will play at Bridgeport next on Saturday, April 1, at noon.