MILWAUKEE – Marian University softball (20-8, 12-2 NACC) gained sole possession atop the NACC standings after sweeping Alverno with final scores of 7-4 and 8-3.
Sophomore Gianna Esposito made sure the Marian offense got things going early as she opened the conference twin bill with a two-run home run to left center to put Marian ahead 2-0 in the first. The Inferno cut that deficit in half in the second before a pair of Sabre runs scored in the third inning off of a single from sophomore Taylor Lauscher. Junior Lindsey Strainis then drove in fellow junior Rachel Soch with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to give Marian a 5-1 lead.
Alverno responded in the next half inning to bring the game back to 5-2 but the Sabres extended the lead again in the seventh. Freshman Alexa Rodriguez provided the big hit in the inning driving in Lauscher and freshman Peyton Loesch with a single.
The Inferno would get a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh before Loesch came in and shut the door for her first career save. Esposito would make a diving play to record the final out of the game and preserve the 7-4 victory.
Sophomore Paige Rauhut (11-3) battled through 6.0 innings striking out four hitters to earn the victory in the circle.
Offensively, Fox continued her hot hitting with a 3-4 day scoring one run. Loesch and Lauscher each also had multi-hit games, while Esposito, Lauscher and Rodriguez each drove in two runs.
Using their momentum from game one, the Sabres jumped all over the Inferno early plating six runs in the first two innings. Strainis opened the scoring after she scored on a wild pitch before Lauscher drove in Esposito with an RBI single to put the Sabres ahead 2-0 after the first. The Sabres then opened the second inning with three straight hits before doing all their damage with two outs. Freshman Katy Croeker would drive in a pair of runs before Lauscher brought in Strainis. The Sabres then manufactured their sixth run on the base paths with Croeker coming home on a first-and-third situation.
Alverno battled back to put the game at 6-2 with a pair of runs in the fourth inning but the Sabres were able to add to their lead late. Croeker once again drove in Strainis in the sixth inning and freshman Kenzie Waechter singled up the middle to bring in Rodriguez in the seventh to put Marian ahead 8-2. The Inferno would plate a run in their final chance but the Sabres held off the comeback to complete the sweep.
Loesch (6-2) earned the victory coming out of the bullpen to provide 4.1 innings only allowing a pair of earned runs and striking out four.
Waechter had a big game at the dish at the bottom of the Marian lineup going 4-4 with a run scored and a run driven in. Fox, Strainis and Croeker each had multi-hit games as well with Strainis scoring three times and Croeker driving in three.
Marian opens the final weekend of the season Thursday, April 26 at Lakeland for a 3 p.m. doubleheader in NACC action.