April 16, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Pinch hitter Rae Anne Payleitner took a 1-1 pitch and ripped a walk-off single to right field to score pinch runner Alyssa Strobehn for the tie-breaking run in lifting Army to a 3-2 ninth-inning win over Iona in a non-conference softball game Tuesday evening at the Softball Complex.
The Black Knights (21-19) staked RHP Morgan Lashley to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Alex Reynolds' two-run homer over the left field fence for her first round tripper of the season. Iona (8-29) rallied in the late innings with a run in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game 2-2.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Iona brought in reliever Carly Argyle, who struck out the next batter in sending the game into extra innings.
Lashley (17-10), who yielded eight hits, struck out six and walked three in going the distance, retired the side in the top of the eighth, but got into a jam in the ninth inning. With one out, she was touched for back-to-back hits followed by a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners into scoring position. Lashley threw three straight strikes to retire leadoff batter Jodi Peterson to get out of that jam safely.
With two outs in the home half of the ninth, Alex Gaff and Christian McKone drew back-to-back walks off Argle (6-16), who had retired the first six batters she faced. After Gaff gave way to pinch runner Strobehn at second base, Payleitner was called in as a pinch hitter for the Black Knights.
Following a ball and a strike, Payleitner ripped a hard grounder past the second baseman into right field in chasing home Strobehn from second base with her clutch hit.
"My teammates were out there on first and second and they expected me to hit the ball, and they put me in there because they knew I could hit the ball," explained Payleitner." I saw the first two pitches come out me and I was seeing the ball. I knew I could draw the ball, so when I saw it come on the outside corner, I just went with it and drove it past the second baseman."
After jumping out to a 2-0 first inning lead, Army stranding six runners over the next four innings, including two in scoring position in the third inning as the Black Knights collected six of seven hits over the first five frames. After Marina Northup ripped a two-out single in the fifth, Iona pitchers combined to retire 12 straight batters before Army broke loose in the ninth inning.
"Morgan (Lashley) did a great job holding Iona and providing us time to keep plugging away," said Army head coach Michelle DePolo. "We had a lot of base runners, especially early in the game. We knew that if we could hold Iona off especially in the bottom of the inning, we would be able to come back.
"I thought the two players (Gaff and McKone) in the ninth did a fantastic job drawing walks. The pitcher is feeling just as much pressure in the situation as the batter, so they did a good job being patient, fouling off some balls and not letting the umpire take them out of their zone.
"Rae did exactly what she should do - put the ball on the ground or put a line drive to the gap. She hits the ball hard, so the idea was to see what happens. That was the game plan and that is how we win games. We are not a long ball team and not a team that is going to live and die off the home run. It is going to be scratching and clawing our way."
The Black Knights, opening a seven-game home stretch, have a critical four-game Patriot League series this weekend hosting Bucknell in doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday. Army is in fifth place (5-7) in the league standings trailing fourth-place Bucknell (6-6).