CALDWELL, N.J. – In sunny conditions, the Queens College softball team wrapped up its season on Sunday, dropping a pair of games at the hands of the 16th-ranked Cougars of Caldwell University in non-conference action. The Knights were dealt an 8-1 loss in game one before falling in game two in another identical score line of 8-1.
In the meantime, Queens was eliminated from East Coast Conference (ECC) postseason play, as LIU Post defeated the University of Bridgeport in game one, 6-0, to book its spot as the fourth and final seed in the tournament.
The Cougars went up, 2-0, in the bottom of the third, as Katie Nichols singled to start the inning. A fielding error allowed Amy Hickman to reach first base safely, while advancing Nichols to third base. Lauren Frye drove home Nichols with a single to center field to take a 1-0 lead. Marisa Monasseri doubled the advantage for the home side with a single to center field, as Hickman reached home safely. Senior starter Morgan Starley then induced back-to-back ground outs to escape further damage.
The Knights were outmatched in game one, with Cougars starter Sydney Ponto working a no-hitter for the first three innings before junior ToniMarie Valeriano (1-for-3) singled to shortstop in the top of the fourth to stop the no-hitter. However, Ponto worked out of trouble, getting senior Kristen Boody (1-for-3) to induce into a double play to end the inning.
Trailing 5-0 after five innings, the Knights were able to get on the board, as senior Stevianne Ognibene earned a walk before Boody singled to right field to put runners on first and second. With two outs, classmate Kayla Morrissey (1-for-3, RBI) singled to center field, allowing Ognibene to plate home to cut into the deficit, 5-1. Following a passed ball to advance the runners into the corner, Ponto got junior Vanessa Juengerkes to fly out to left field to end the inning. The Cougars added another three runs in the bottom of the sixth, leading to the 8-1 decision.
In her final start of the season, Starley (3-5) was unable to bring the magic she had in her previous two starts, and the Knights had no answer against Ponto (25-3), who allowed only one earned run on three hits, while striking out six.
Once again, the Knights came up empty, as the Cougars put early pressure on game two starter Valeriano (3-7), as Caldwell took a 4-0 lead after three innings. The Knights opened their account in the fifth inning when Juengerkes (2-for-3, R) tripled to center field. With two outs, freshman Briana Schippell (1-for-2, RBI) singled to second base to score Juengerkes, cutting into the deficit, 5-1, but the Knights were unable to make any more inroads.
Juengerkes (4 IP, 5 K) took over in relief, but the bats stayed quiet. The Cougars added three more runs, as Caldwell game two starter Jessie Johnston (11-6) efficiently limited the Knights to six hits to earn an 8-1 complete game win in the circle. With the sweep, the Cougars improved to 40-13 on the season.
Highlighted by multiple walk-off wins during the 2017 season, including an 8-7 comeback win over Dominican College and a walk-off grand slam by Boody on Senior Day for a 7-3 win over LIU Post, the Knights conclude their season at 13-17 (10-14 ECC) under first-year head coach Christina Berardi. The Queens College softball team also says goodbye to seniors Starley, Morrissey, Boody and Ognibene after their four-year dedication to the Queens College program, all helping the team win the ECC Championship in 2015.