Lailoni Mayfield’s 1st-career home run helps Syracuse split doubleheader with Notre Dame

first_imgLailoni Mayfield walked into the batter’s box with the bases loaded. Less than an hour before, she was one of the final outs in Syracuse’s defeat. But that game was over. The scoreboard read 0-0, until Mayfield’s left-handed swing connected on a Payton Tidd pitch. Off the bat, she didn’t know if it was gone, but the crack sound of the bat suggested otherwise. SU assistant coach Vanessa Shippy, standing down the first base line, knew.It was Mayfield’s first career home run, a grand slam, into the trees that sit behind the fence at the Skytop Softball Stadium. Whatever momentum Notre Dame carried into the second game of the doubleheader off a win in the opener was gone. Syracuse (14-19, 4-5 Atlantic Coast) jumped on the Fighting Irish early in game two, scoring five first-inning runs — four of them from Mayfield — to beat UND (20-12, 4-5), 8-6. This win is the first time since 2016 that the Orange won a series against the Fighting Irish and just the third time in program history.“I’m seeing the ball well,” Mayfield said. “I was definitely watching the ball a little (on the home run), but it’s always nice to score first and set the tone.” Every time Syracuse had a chance to string together wins this season, it failed. Syracuse could’ve won both of its first two ACC series, but defensive lapses and pitching issues led to its demise against Boston College and Louisville. After a 9-18 start where SU lost seven times in shortened games and only once won back-to-back games, the Orange’s new-found hitting success over the weekend propelled them. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn both games, the Orange grabbed leads by stringing together consecutive baserunners in the opening inning. In game one, Gabby Teran singled through the hole between short and third with two strikes. Alicia Hansen walked, bringing Toni Martin to the plate. Also with two strikes, Martin launched an outside pitch to the right field corner, sprinting all the way to third with Hansen and Teran comfortably scoring. In game two, the Orange faced Tidd, the same pitcher they rocked en route to nine runs on Friday. To start, two walks and a single loaded the bases for Mayfield. Then came her grand slam. Syracuse’s 4-0 lead became five later in the inning on a Gianna Carideo single. While the SU dugout was quiet nearing the end of game one, many in the dugout, especially Hansen and pitcher Alexa Romero, danced and sang in jubilation in the second contest.“Lailoni has been one of the hardest working kids all season, if you look at the cages, she’s stayed consistently in the batting cages,” SU head coach Shannon Doepking said. “She’s a kid that’s bought into it.”After Dopeking said SU “booted the ball all over the field” in Wednesday’s two wins over Niagara, the Orange had just one error in two games on Saturday. Martin robbed a home run in the second inning of game one, and Hansen rescued Romero out of a jam in game two. After a grounder deflected off Mayfield’s glove at third base, Hansen, who hasn’t played shortstop since high school, threw out the runner at first from shortstop, because of starting shortstop Neli Casares-Maher’s injury. When the Orange got pegged back in game one and trailed 6-4, it was Mayfield again that helped bring them back. Alex Acevedo hit a ball into shallow left field, and Mayfield immediately took off for home from second. No matter what the sign was from Doepking at third, she was headed home, Mayfield said. She slid in, barely getting her hand past the catcher in what became a controversial safe call. “That’s complete garbage,” one UND player said from the dugout. “Way to do your job,” she said to the umpire after the call.Once Syracuse tied it up in game one, a two-run home run in the sixth gave Notre Dame the lead and the win, 8-6.“I was proud of them after the first game, we just got beat,” Doepking said, “We competed, we had great at-bats, they just beat us … It’s more about this team seeing the potential of what we can be.”But when Notre Dame tied it up in game two, a three-run, bases-clearing triple from Hansen sent the Orange in front. Romero completed the final inning, letting out a huge scream as she embraced Carideo in between the pitcher’s circle and home plate. Doepking was one of the first to greet Romero, who had carried the burden for SU in the circle all weekend. Game one was long over, and Syracuse turned in one of its best all-around performances of the season in game two.“It’s nice to have offense. I know that even if we’re down a run, we’re gonna scratch and get one back,” Romero said. “It hasn’t been like that the last two years.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 30, 2019 at 8:48 pm Contact Anthony: [email protected]last_img