Softball Wins Seven of Last Eight, Move Into Four-Way Tie for First Place
By: Vincent Christiano III
Despite 10 of their last 12 games being played on the road, the Golden Griffins softball team has found their stride in the month of April, going 11–5 to this point and moving into a four-way tie for first in the MAAC.
After splitting with Rider on April 9, Canisius began a hot streak with a sweep of Monmouth on April 10, thanks to a 12-strikeout, complete game no-hitter from pitcher Megan Giese. The dozen strikeouts were a career high for Giese and makes her the first Canisius pitcher to record a seven-inning no-hitter since 2005.
Six Canisius runs on 12 hits helped cement the victory, which officially ended when Giese herself had to make a play on a ground ball with two outs in the seventh.
In the aftermath of the game, Giese received an abundance of congratulations for what many have called “making history.” “A bunch of my coaches, a bunch of girls I played with on travel and in high school, all reached out to me,” she said. “It hasn’t really sunk in or seemed like a huge deal to me. But now people keep saying it, so I think it’s starting to sink in.”
The team carried the momentum from the shutout into the day’s second game, where they completed the sweep of the Hawks by a score of 12–5, taking advantage of six Monmouth errors.
The team then captured their third win in a row after game one of a midweek doubleheader against the Syracuse Orange. After plating four runs in the top of the first, the Canisius defense held Syracuse at bay, thanks to several putouts from second basemen Saige Alfaro and Abbey Roeser and a complete game by Shealyn Ollison. The Griffs emerged victorious by a score of 4–3.
Ollison’s first career complete game was the program’s first win over a Power 5 school in almost eight years and the first on the road since 2013. Coincidentally, the most recent Power 5 victory was also a 4–3 victory against Syracuse, back in 2014.
“This team is capable of beating anybody when we bring our best, and [Ollison] had a great game,” head coach Kim Griffin said about the win. “We talked about it post game, but having that level of focus and being able to lock in is really important in big games.”
With a short turnaround until another in-conference matchup against Siena, Griffin emphasized staying focused going up against the Saints, who at the time were 6–0 in conference play.
Once again, the Canisius pitching staff shone, with Giese recording another double-digit strikeout performance in game one, holding Siena to just one run in a 3–1 victory. Alexis Churchill started the second game for the Griffs, striking out seven batters through five innings. Canisius scored two runners in the fourth inning for the only runs of the contest before Giese re-entered the circle in the fifth to close out the game. She struck out three more batters to earn a combined shutout and a sweep.
The Griffs then moved to 7–3 in MAAC play, tied with the Saints, the Rider Broncs and Iona Gaels for the conference lead. They would then improve their overall record on Wednesday, sweeping Little Three rival St. Bonaventure.
Starting off with a 4–2 win, game one was highlighted by Giese’s fifth save of the year, coming in after Ollison held the Bonnies to two runs over five innings. In game two, redshirt senior Emily Nicosia pitched a complete game, striking out six in a contest that saw Canisius’s offense explode following a two-run homerun from Tiara Johnson. Johnson recorded four RBI’s on the day in the blue and gold’s 8–1 victory.
Canisius is back to MAAC play this weekend when they travel to Connecticut to visit the Fairfield Stags on Saturday before playing Iona on Sunday, a game with massive conference standings implications.