ST. LOUIS - George Mason University's softball team was on the wrong side of walk-off heroics Friday evening and dropped game one of the Atlantic 10 Conference series at Saint Louis 6-4.
A three-run home run by Mackenzie Lawson in the seventh inning snapped Mason's (20-27, 11-7 A-10) four-game win streak and got the Billikens (19-22, 8-10 A-10) in a postseason position at least until the rest of the weekend series openers around the league are played on Saturday.
Sophomore Marina Vitalich
(12-10) had picked up her ninth strikeout shortly before the home for Saint Louis' second out of the inning when Lawson grabbed the winning hit, which was her team's sixth of the game. Mason was outhit by the slightest margin, 6-5.
Maddie Baalman also piched a complete game to pick up Friday's win and improve her record to 11-11. She struck out only four batters but helped the Billiken defense strand seven Patriots on base while Vitalich left four Saint Louis players on base.
Lawson's home run gave the home team its first and only lead of the game after Mason had been on the front foot for the most of the game. The Patriots had led for a total of four innings, starting with a two-run home run by freshman catcher Sydnee Wells
in the very first inning. Other than herself, Wells scored junior right fielder Brooke Sullivan
(2-4), who was the only Patriot with multiple hits in the game.
Saint Louis responded through its most productive hitter for the game and for the season, Allie Macfarlane, who doubled to right center to half Mason's lead in the home part of the first inning, but the Patriots rebounded right away. Midweek walk-off hero Kat Marsh hit her second double of the week and fourth of the season to score fellow outfielder Mary-Elizabeth Luttrell
and recover her team's two-run lead, 3-1. Vitalich then pitched her first of two three-up-three-down innings in the game to add to Mason's momentum.
All of the momentum seemed to have swung the other way in the third inning. Following a clean inning by Baalman, Alex Nickel hit a two-RBI home run with no outs to tie the game at 3-3 and put Mason in a little bit of a hole. As she had done multiple times before, however, Vitalich led her team out of the uncomfortable situation with two key strikeouts to end the inning.
Two walks and a throwing error allowed Mason to load the bases with one out in the fifth inning before redshirt sophomore third baseman Jess Middleton
hit one of her signature sacrifice flyouts, which gave sophomore designated hitter Jess Curbeira
enough time to cross home plate and to put the Patriots in the lead once again at 4-3.
NEXT ON THE DIAMOND
The series is scheduled to continue at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday if weather in the vicinity of the Billiken Sports Center improves.