Softball's sixth-inning rally stalls as NYIT drops NCAA tourney opener

Sydney Kratzert bats during NYIT softball's first NCAA tourney appearance since 2008.
Sydney Kratzert bats during NYIT softball's first NCAA tourney appearance since 2008.

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. — The NYIT softball team came up just short in its first NCAA Tournament game since 2008.

Molloy's Chelsea Hawks stranded the bases loaded in the sixth inning by coaxing a flyout from Christine Olivas and the seventh-seeded Bears fell to host Molloy, 2-1, in the opener of the double-elimination subregional.

NYIT (25-19) will face No. 6 Merrimack in an elimination game on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Rockville Centre Sports Complex.

Madison Smith's RBI single pulled the Bears within a run and placed two runners in scoring position against Molloy in the sixth inning. However, Hawks ultimately retired Tiffany McCracken and Olivas as NYIT stranded the bases loaded and fell to the second-seeded Lions.

The Bears had been held scoreless into the sixth inning by Lions starter Jenna Turato. NYIT then placed two in scoring position with one out in that frame, prompting Molloy to turn to Hawks, who had edged Laura McLaughlin for the East Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year award.

Smith greeted her by depositing a ball into right field to pull NYIT within 2-1. Smith advanced to second base on the throw to the infield. However, with two runners in scoring position, McCracken struck out. And, after Brooke Scherer walked to load the bases, Olivas flied out to end the threat. 

NYIT and second-seeeded Molloy (33-16) have now split six meetings this season.

Molloy scored both of its run against McLaughlin in the first inning after loading the bases with none out on a pair of singles and an error by second baseman Kaitlyn Lanksbury.