Softball Sweeps Bucknell, Preps for Important Series at Merrimack This Weekend


Saint Francis extended its winning streak to four games with a doubleheader sweep of Bucknell in Loretto on Tuesday afternoon, 1-0 and 13-4 (five innings).

SFU now sets its sight on Merrimack. The Red Flash and Warriors will play three games this weekend (April 29-30) in North Andover, Massachusetts. A Flash sweep of Merrimack would clinch SFU the top seed in the upcoming Northeast Conference Tournament. The No. 1 seed will host the NEC Tournament.

The Red Flash have won the last five NEC Tournament titles.

History was made in the sweep of Bucknell. SFU senior pitcher Grace Vesco set the program record for career strikeouts. She fanned four Bison batters in the 1-0 Game 1 win and now has 576 strikeouts in her career.

Vesco also holds the program record for career wins at 53, a mark she set last weekend. She was dominant against Bucknell through seven innings of work on Tuesday, allowing only four hits in the shutout win.

The righthander from Uniontown, Ohio, worked out of a two-out, bases loaded jam in the seventh.

The lone run of the first game came on a Jordan Pietrzykoski double to right center, which drove in Ashley Orischak in the third inning.

Saint Francis backed up Vesco’s performance in the pitcher’s circle with some great defense in the doubleheader opener.

Game 2 of this non-conference match-up was nothing like the pitcher’s duel in the first. It included 25 total hits, 17 runs and three home runs.

Rachael Marsden took the circle in Game 2 for the Red Flash. The senior from Erie – who is considered “one of the best two-way players in the country” by “Extra Inning Softball” – went two-for-four at the plate in Game 2 with a three-run home run.

Marsden also pitched a complete game (5 innings), allowing three earned runs in the 13-4 victory.

The Red Flash (21-22) offense blew up right out of the gate in the second game, building a 6-1 lead in the first two innings before exploding for seven runs in the third. Marsden and freshman Savannah Nash homered in back-to-back at-bats to make it 13-2 before the Bison (13-27) picked up two in the fifth to set the final.

“I really like where we are at,” said SFU head coach Jessica O’Donnell. “I told the girls that we need to come out here with great intensity and energy.

“If we bring that to Merrimack, we will be just fine.”

The Red Flash and Merrimack will meet in a doubleheader on Saturday and then a single game on Sunday.

Game 1 Notes:

Both pitchers – Vesco and Bucknell’s Olivia Marinelli – gave up four hits during the game. Both pitchers threw complete games.

Game 2 Notes:

Saint Francis’ on-base percentage was .633. Bucknell OBP was .380.