PBA Softball Opens Up Season With Tight Victory Over Northwood University

Written By: Michael Brown, Palm Beach Atlantic University SID

Heather Laird (Pictured) Gave PBA a Complete-Game Victory on Tuesday Evening in Game One Versus Northwood University. Photo Courtesy of: Jonathan Englehardt. Heather Laird (Pictured) Gave PBA a Complete-Game Victory on Tuesday Evening in Game One Versus Northwood University. Photo Courtesy of: Jonathan Englehardt.

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LAKE WORTH, Fla.- As temperatures dipped below 50 degrees on Tuesday evening, fans and players alike bundled up for what turned out to be an exciting first game of the season for the Palm Beach Atlantic University softball team. Hosting cross-town rival Northwood University, the Sailfish jumped out ahead in the middle innings and rode a solid performance from pitcher Heather Laird to a 3-2 season opening victory.

While both teams appeared guilty of some early season jitters, both squads showed signs of potentially having a solid 2009 season ahead of them.

After three innings of scoreless innings despite both teams having some scoring opportunities, the Sailfish finally broke through against NU hurler Maryelise Gierke in the bottom of the fourth inning as they scored all three of their runs while temporarily holding to a comfortable three run advantage.

A leadoff walk to junior Dani Perrotti got things started for the Sailfish in the fourth inning followed by a long double from freshman Erica Walters that gave the Fish a pair of runners in scoring position. After Gierke retired Abbey Shipman on a flyout, junior Candace Horton delivered an RBI single that sent Perrotti racing home for the game’s first run.

Up next would be freshman Brittany Schneider who would reach on an error and allow Walters to come in to score. Fellow freshman Mari Stokes then promptly followed with a sacrifice fly to right-field that allowed Horton to slide in safely for the team’s third and final run of the inning.

With Laird cruising through the Seahawks order, it appeared that the Fish were well on there way to a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Things would get closer however when the Seahawks pushed across a pair of runs in their half of the sixth inning that cut the Sailfish lead to just one run at 3-2. Chantelle Neff and Alyssa Santos connected on back-to-back singles to start the inning and both came around to score on a big double from Jaclyn Russell. Laird escaped further damage with a key strikeout of Gierke to end the inning.

That would be as close as NU would get however as Laird finished the game off with a scoreless seventh inning to close out the game.

Laird (1-0) finished the contest with six strikeouts while allowing no walks and just the two earned runs. Gierke (0-1) was nearly as impressive as the NU right-hander tallied eight strikeouts and allowed just five hits.

Santos and Russell both finished 2-for-3 at the plate in game one for Northwood.

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