Jones and Laird Pitch Palm Beach Atlantic to Sweep of Mercyhurst College

Written By: Michael Brown, PBA Sports Information Director

Heather Laird (Pictured) Kept Her Season Record Perfect at 4-0 with a Complete Game Effort on Saturday Against Mercyhurst College. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards. Heather Laird (Pictured) Kept Her Season Record Perfect at 4-0 with a Complete Game Effort on Saturday Against Mercyhurst College. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards.

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.- Welcoming in the first of three different northern teams that are in south Florida for their Spring Break, the Palm Beach Atlantic University softball team hosted Mercyhurst College (Penn.) on Saturday for a pair of games at Palm Beach Gardens High School. Once again getting strong starting pitching, out of both of their senior right-handers Ashley Jones and Heather Laird, as well as strong defense the Fish cruised to 6-0 and 8-2 victories over the Lakers.

Both Palm Beach Atlantic (10-4) pitchers went the distance as the teams finished just before heavy rain reached Palm Beach County for the remainder of the afternoon. The double-header sweep closes out a solid weekend for PBA as they went 4-0 after a Friday night sweep of Flagler College; bringing their win streak to six games.

The Sailfish would gain all the offense they would need in game one by pushing across three runs in both of the first two frames.

Candace Horton and Mari Stokes delivered the big hits in the opening inning as Horton delivered an RBI single while Stokes smashed a triple into the gap and came into score on the play when the throw got away from the Lakers relay throw.

PBA posted another trio of runs scored in the second inning as Dani Perrotti singled followed by a sacrifice bunt by Miranda Welch and a single from Brittany Schneider. Next stepped in leadoff hitter Cassady Faircloth who smoked a Mercyhurst offering over the left-fielders head for a two-run double. Faircloth came home to score on another Horton RBI single to follow.

That would be all Jones would need as she allowed only three hits in seven shutout innings. The Jensen Beach High School graduate was very efficient as she walked only one while registering another double-digit strikeout performance with ten punchouts.

Kristi Janoske went the full game for Mercyhurst in the pitching circle and was tagged with the loss as she allowed seven hits, six runs (five earned) while walking one and striking out three PBA batters.

Horton was the only Sailfish batter to register a multi-hit game with a 2-for-3 performance however Faircloth would add in two runs scored and two driven in to aide the Sailfish cause.

In the second game, head coach Kimmy Bloemers would send her Laird to the circle as she attempted to keep her season record perfect as she tossed seven strong inning to improve to 4-0 on the season. Laird allowed only three hits and two runs while striking out eight batters and walking three.

After both teams were scoreless through two innings of play, PBA would get it in gear as the put forth a three spot in the third inning to jump out to a lead.

A Horton sacrifice fly would get PBA on the board as Schneider sprinted home for the game’s first run followed by a two-run double from Stokes.

Things would get a bit closer in the top of the fourth inning as Mercyhurst responded with two runs on one swing when Amber Rapose drilled a triple into the left-centerfield gap to cut into the PBA lead at 3-2.

Palm Beach Atlantic would not get the runs back in the bottom of the inning however they would break things open in the fifth and sixth innings as they tallied two and three runs respectively to earn a decisive 8-2 victory.

Three straight singles by Caitlin Bouschet, Natalia Ojeda, and Candace Horton loaded the bases in the fifth when Stokes came away with another RBI on a sacrifice fly that brought home an additional run when the Lakers had trouble getting the ball in.

Erica Walters, who caught both games behind the plate for PBA, doubled to leadoff the sixth inning then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Perrotti. Walters would come around to score as Faircloth registered a run-scoring single followed by a two-run double from Bouschet to bring home the final two runs for PBA.

Amanda Norman and Megan Hopton were the two right-handers pitching in game two for Mercyhurst with Norman tallying the first 5.2 innings of work before being relieved by Hopton. Norman took the loss as she allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits with three walks and one strikeout.

Bouschet finished 3-for-4 in the second contest for the Fish after going hitless in the opening game. She drove in two runs and also scored a pair. Faircloth finished 2-for-2 with a walk, a RBI, and a run scored while Stokes drove in three runs. Seven of the nine starters in game two had at least one hit for the Sailfish.

Palm Beach Atlantic will return to the diamond on Wednesday, March 3rd as they will host Wesley College at 5 p.m. for a double-header at Palm Beach State College.

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