MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's softball team was on a mission this season to prove the critics wrong and did so by sweeping Loyola Marymount this weekend to clinch the PCSC Coastal Division Title. After being picked to finish fourth in the division, the Gaels won the Coastal Division for the second time in three years and swept preseason favorite LMU in a four-game PCSC series for the first time in program history.
Saint Mary's improved to 25-21 overall and a program-best 15-4 in conference play with two wins over the Lions on Sunday. The Gaels will now prepare to play in the PCSC Championship Series against Portland State who clinched the PCSC Mountain Division yesterday.
SMC once again got tremendous pitching performances out of Jessica Lemmon and Britany Linton and got all the big hits of the day to earn two exciting wins.
The Gaels came out firing in game one and could not have asked for a much better start on Senior Day. After senior Nicole Arce hit a one-out single up the middle in the top of the first, seniors Michelle Mounts and Rebecca Sabatini hit home runs on back-to-back pitches to put Saint Mary's up 3-0.
After LMU put a run on the board in the bottom of the fourth, the Gaels responded with two more in the top of the fifth. Mounts doubled to center field to open the inning and scored when R. Sabatini singled to center. R. Sabatini came around to score on a two-out RBI single through the left side by Christine Torrise to put SMC up 5-1.
Despite silencing the nations top hitter for most of the series, Sam Fisher hit a two-out solo blast in the bottom of the fifth to reduce the Saint Mary's lead to 5-2.
The Gaels added another run in the top of the sixth on a RBI single by Mounts to score Brittany Sabatini from third and put SMC up by the final score of 6-2.
Lemmon (13-10) was solid once again for the Gaels on the mound. In seven innings pitched, the junior scattered six hits and allowed two earned runs with two walks and four strikeouts.
Arce and Mounts each went 3-for-4 in game one, while R. Sabatini was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
In game two, Linton (11-7) picked a great day to have one of the best performances of her stellar four-year career. The senior had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning and eventually gave up just four hits on the day and allowed three runs with just two earned. Linton also struck out a career-high eight batters and issued three walks, with all three coming wisely to Fisher.
The Gaels jumped on top in game two with a run in the top of the second. After lining out in all four at bats in game one of the day, Megan Smith got on board to lead off the inning with a single to right field. Smith's pinch runner Elizabeth Slaughter advanced to third on a single by Torrise and then scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Amelia McIntosh.
Loyola Marymount tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth and neither team could manage a run in the seventh which sent the game into extra innings.
Senior Mandy Camuso doubled to left field to open the first extra frame to put the Gaels in scoring position and some smart base running then allowed Saint Mary's to score a run. After Arce singled to the pitcher, she rounded first and got the pitcher to attempt to throw her out which allowed Camuso to score. Mounts then came up with another big hit and smacked her second triple of the season to score Arce from second. The Gaels then got what proved to be a crucial run off an error by Fisher at shortstop to go up 4-1.
Even with a three-run deficit, the Lions did not go down quietly in the bottom of the eighth. After a Gael error allowed LMU's first batter to reach base, Sterling Shuster hit a two-run home run over the centerfield fence to cut the SMC lead to 4-3. Linton then got Fisher to pop up and got two Loyola Marymount batters to go down swinging to end the game.
Mounts and Arce both went 2-for-4 in game two, while Mounts, R. Sabatini and McIntosh each had an RBI.
Saint Mary's will now host Portland State for the PCSC Championship Series on May 11-12 at Cottrell Field. The winner of the best-of-three series will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.