NEW YORK -- Senior Maggie Johnson hit her second home run in as many days, a two-run shot to left field, that jump-started a four-run second inning to help the Columbia softball team to a 6-0 victory over Cornell in the second game of an Ivy League doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.
First-year Emily Snodgrass also had a two-run double in the frame, providing all of the offense the Lions would need as first-year Prophet Gaspard limited the Big Red to just four hits in a complete-game shutout.
In the first game of the day, Cornell's Marissa Amiraian went 3-for-4 with an RBI triple and a run scored as the Big Red took a 2-1 decision.
Columbia's offense was clicking on all cylinders throughout the second half of the doubleheader with Cornell. The Lions had multiple base runners aboard in all but one inning, including the first as first-year Emily Snodgrass led the Lions' half of the first off with a sharply-hit single to left.
After a fielder's choice and a flyout put two away, senior Karen Tulig stepped to the plate with a runner on first and two down. A bizarre sequence followed, as Tulig swung and appeared to foul a ball off her foot. After hitting her foot, the ball squibbed to the shortstop Erin Keene, who fired to first but could not get Columbia's second baseman.
On the play, first-year Morgan Cook advanced to second and tried to catch the Big Red defense napping by taking third, but was cut down on a perfect relay across the diamond to end the inning.
The Lions would keep the bats rolling into the second, and saw their persistence pay off. Senior Anne Marie Skylis singled up the middle to begin the rally, and advanced to second on a passed ball. Senior Maggie Johnson followed with a two-run home run that lasered just over the left-field wall to give the home team its first lead of the day, 2-0.
Senior Stephanie Yagi stepped to the plate next, and benefitted from miscommunication by the Big Red defensively. Yagi popped a pitch foul on the third-base side, between the catcher and the third baseman. Neither one of them called for the ball, and it landed in fair territory before spinning harmlessly foul to give Yagi a second life.
The Sacramento, Calif. native took advantage on the next pitch, belting a double into the left-center field gap. With still nobody out, sophomore Christie Taylor kept the hit parade going with a single to left that put runners on the corners.
After a ground out moved Taylor to second, Snodgrass connected on her second hit in two innings -- a two-run double down the left-field line -- to make the score 4-0.
From there, Gaspard was dominant in holding the Cornell offense at bay. The one inning that did see the first-year pitcher struggle was the fourth, and she was bailed out by a fine defensive play behind her.
With two down and nobody on, consecutive singles from Erin Belles and Christina Villalon gave the Big Red a two-out threat. Cornell relief pitcher Ali Tomlinson, who began the contest as the designated player, dug in and lined a single to left field.
On the play, Belles rounded third and headed for home but was gunned down at home by Taylor. Skylis made a great play on the throw, as she corralled the toss on an in-between hop and was able to make the tag to end the frame.
Columbia tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, taking advantage of two errors by Cornell in the process. Johnson came through with an RBI single in the fifth, and Snodgrass scored on an error by Tomlinson with two outs to push the cushion to 6-0.
Over the final three innings, Gaspard was tremendous as she allowed just one base runner -- a leadoff walk in the fifth -- and retired nine straight to close out her second shutout of the season.
In a game that went down to the wire, it was the hitting performance by Cornell senior Marissa Amiraian that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory for the Big Red. Amiraian had three hits, including an RBI triple to right-center in the third that gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Amiraian would wind up scoring in the inning, as an errant throw by Columbia allowed her to tag up from third base and score to double the Cornell lead to 2-0.
The Lions had plenty of opportunities throughout, as they put at least one runner on base in every inning. In the second, fourth and fifth innings, Columbia had runners in scoring position but couldn't come through with a clutch base hit.
It wasn't until the bottom of the seventh that the Lions were able to break through against the reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Elizabeth Dalrymple. Trailing 2-0, Yagi led off with a single up the middle. A foul out gave Cornell its first out of the inning, before Cook looped a soft liner over the head of a drawn-in first baseman.
On the play, sophomore Alison Lam had to hold up a bit to make sure the Cornell first baseman couldn't snare the ball, and the delay was just enough for Cornell second baseman Jenny Edwards to throw her out at second for the fielder's choice.
With two away, first-year Emily Caruthers lined one through the left side for a single to extend the contest. Snodgrass stepped to the plate and lined a shot right at Edwards, who couldn't squeeze it to load the bases.
Sophomore Jennifer Bergeron came to the dish and was promptly plunked on a 1-0 pitch to drive home a run and halve the Columbia deficit. Tulig nearly provided some walk-off heroics, as she drove a long fly ball to deep center field that was tracked down near the warning track by Amiraian to end the game.
The fourth and final contest of the series between Columbia and Cornell will take place on Monday, April 18 at 12:30 p.m.