Softball Earns Little East Conference Win In Doubleheader Split With Keene State

BOSTON, Mass. -- UMass Boston (14-12, 2-6) put aside a dissapointing 11-6 loss in the opener of Wednesday's doubleheader to earn a split with Keene State (16-7-1) with a 2-1 come from behind victory over the Owls at the UMass Boston Softball Field.

Freshmen pitcher Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) and senior outfielder Jaci Goodwin (Melrose, Mass.) keyed the victory, helping the Beacons end a five-game conference losing streak. 

Zullo struggled in the first game in a save appearance giving up four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning but turned things around quickly in the second game. The freshmen moved to 8-4 on the year by allowing just one unearned run in seven innings. She struck out two Owls while allowing just five hits and three walks for her second conference win of the year.

Goodwin provided the spark offensively for the Beacons with one of the three UMass Boston hits in the nightcap. Goodwin singled and then used her speed to tie the game, before a pair of Owls errors allowed the Beacons to score the all important winning run. 

In the first game, the Beacons raced out to a 5-1 lead behind a slew of Keene State errors, before the Owls slowly played there way back into the game and earned the win with a six-run top of the seventh.

Senior Lisa Polsonetti (Revere, Mass.) led the Beacons with two hits in the first game and senior third baseman Maria Nasta (Andover, Mass.) added one hit and a team-high two RBI. Junior shortstop Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) added the other RBI for the Beacons in the opening game. 

On the mound, senior pitcher Kara Willis (Burrillville, R.I.) went six and one-third innings allowing seven runs, six earned. Willis was pulled with two runners on and no outs in the top of the six, only to brought back to record the final out of the inning when Zullo struggled in relief.

Haley Chandler led the way for the Owls with a 2-for-4 day and five RBI. Chandler crushed a three-run homer to left field in the fourth inning and smashed a two-run double to right in the seventh to cap the scoring.

Keene State opened the scoring with an unearned run in the top of the second. After a pair of singles, Willis sent two pitches to the backstop allowing the Owls to take a 1-0 lead.

The Beacons would respond in a big way with five runs in the bottom half of the frame. With two outs and the bases loaded, Killilea was hit by a pitch to tie the game and Nasta followed with a single up the middle that scored all three runners when the center fielder overthrew the catcher and Killilea scored on the overthrow. Two batters later, Nasta finished off the scoring when she dashed home on a wild pitch.

In the fourth innings, the Owls put runners on first and second base on consecutive errors by the Beacons infield and it would cost UMass Boston. Chandler stepped up with two outs and smashed her fifth home run of the season.

Umass Boston responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the half when Toni Scola (Worcester, Mass.) reached on an error by the center fielder and came around to score on the fourth Owls error of the afternoon.

Keene State tacked on a run in the top of the sixth to make it 6-5, before they blew the game open in the top of the seventh. After Willis allowed a walk and single to start the inning, Zullo came on against the heart of the Owls order. Zullo struck out the first batter she faced, before allowing a single to tie the game and then a three-run double to give the Owls their first lead of the game (9-5). Zullo would retire one more batter, before allowing a two-run double from Chandler to end the scoring.

The Beacons put runners on first and third in the bottom of the seventh but that was the extent of the Beacons rally.

In the second game, UMass Boston won a pitchers duel with both teams failing to score an earned run.

Keene State managed the first hit and first run of the game in the top of the third. With runners on first and second base, Beacons catcher Amanda Perry (Worcester, Mass.) tried to pick off the lead runner by throwing to the center fielder. But the throw went by Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and Chandler scored.

UMass Boston knotched two of their three hits to begin the fourth inning but failed to score. They made up for it in the bottom of the fifth.

With one out in the inning, Goodwin stroked a single to left field and advanced to second on a passed ball and third on a wild pitch. After Killilea walked, both runners advanced and Goodwin scored to tie the game on the second wild pitch of the inning. Polsonetti followed with a grounder to first that the first baseman misplayed and Killilea came around to score.

 Spotted a 2-1 lead, Zullo retired Keene State in order in the top of the sixth and shut down the Owls in the seventh after allowing back-to-back base runners to start the inning.

UMass Boston will be back in action Thursday when they travel to Curry College for a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.