Ognibene Strikes Again as Queens Splits with Mercy

Ognibene Strikes Again as Queens Splits with Mercy

FLUSHING, N.Y. – For the second time this week, senior Stevianne Ognibene came through in the clutch, this time hitting the game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh to give the Queens College softball team a 4-3 win over Mercy College in game two of an East Coast Conference (ECC) doubleheader on Thursday.

The Knights were shutout in game one, 2-0, before bouncing back with the 4-3 comeback victory in the second game. Queens improved to 7-11 overall and 4-10 in the ECC, while Mercy moved to 17-7 (10-4 ECC).

Mercy starting pitcher Kaylee Stevens (5-1) threw a no-hitter, striking out 10 and giving up just two walks in the complete game shutout. Stevens faced just 25 batters, four over the minimum. 

On the other side, Queens starter ToniMarie Valeriano gave up just two runs (one earned) on seven hits over 5.1 innings of work. Valeriano (2-5) registered five strikeouts but was handed the loss, as the Knights couldn't provide any run support.

Mercy did all of its damage in the sixth inning. Kaylee Stevens drove in Julie Gross on a double to center before Emma Gilaga scored on an errant throw to the plate in the next at-bat.

After a slow start, the Knights' bats suddenly came alive when it mattered most in the second game. Queens scored all four of its runs in the final two innings after trailing for the majority of the contest, none more important than Ognibene's walk-off single. 

Mercy opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first inning, and then starting pitchers Vanessa Juengerkes and Jackie Kielty kept their opponents quiet over the next three innings. The Mavericks would add another run in the top of the fifth to take a 2-0 lead but left two runners stranded, as Juengerkes prevented any further damage.

Queens finally got its rhythm back in the bottom of the sixth, tallying three hits. Valeriano got it started with a single though the left side, and then fellow senior Kristen Boody drew a walk to put two on with one out. Senior Kayla Morrissey then blasted a three-run homer to right center, her fifth of the season and second in the last three games, pushing the Knights to a 3-2 lead.

The Knights were just one strike away from sealing the deal in the top of the seventh inning, but Morgan Lloyd smacked a two-out double to left to score Breanna Wheeler and tie the game at 3-3.

Queens was unfazed heading into the bottom of the seventh, looking to end things once and for all. Sophomore Maryjane D'Agostino was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before junior Alyssa Neal reached on a single, and then the two advanced into scoring position on a groundout by sophomore Lauren Pascual. With one out and runners on second and third, Ognibene, who hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win at NYIT, came to the plate. She then ripped a single up the middle to bring in D'Agostino for the game-winning run.

Juengerkes (5-5) went the full seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts. Valeriano went 2-for-3 with a run at the plate, while Morrissey was 1-for-2 with three RBI and a walk.

Queens will host Bridgeport for an ECC doubleheader on Saturday, April 15, starting at noon.