---- — NORTH ANDOVER —Junior Keaira Monet Perry gave Merrimack an early 3-0 advantage on a home run in the bottom of the first, but the Merrimack softball team was unable to hold on to the lead, as UMass Lowell powered back with a four-run third en route to handing the Warriors a 6-3 Northeast-10 Conference Divisional setback yesterday afternoon.
With eight games left in the regular season — all of which will be played during the next six days — Merrimack moves to 17-18 overall with an 8-6 mark in divisional play and sits tied for fourth with Stonehill. The River Hawks (23-18, 13-3 NE Division) maintain their lead atop the division by virtue of the win.
“We can’t sit around and feel sorry for ourselves,” head coach Jim Cardello said afterward. “We have ourselves to blame and the good news is we have a chance to go out there tomorrow, and Wednesday and this weekend and control our own destiny as far as the playoffs are concerned.”
Perry finished with a team-leading two hits (2 for 3) while driving in the only three Merrimack runs scored on the day. Four other Warriors finished with a hit apiece, while the Navy and Gold stranded seven base runners over the course of the day.
Senior Kelli Jo Deardorff was charged with the loss in relief, falling to 7-6 on the year. The right-hander tossed 4 2/3 frames after relieving sophomore Val Bauer of Salemwith two runners on, one out and a 3-2 lead in the top of the third.
After walking a batter to load the bases, Deardorff induced a fielder’s choice to retire the runner coming home, but in the next at-bat UMass Lowell’s Krista MacKenzie dropped a single into center to score two runs, giving the River Hawks a lead they would never relinquish.
The second baseman finished with four RBI on a 3-for-4 showing at the plate, while first baseman Brianna Mahoney also added two hits and an RBI for the visitors. The Warriors return to the diamond today, hosting Saint Anselm for a two-game set beginning at 3 p.m.