Softball Drops A Pair At Western Connecticut

DANBURY, CT (Apr. 21) — Western Connecticut pitcher Magen Dargon recorded a total of 18 strikeouts as Western Connecticut State University (25-13, 5-7) swept UMass Boston (16-18, 3-11) by the scores of 16-2 and 6-4 Saturday afternoon at Westside Field.

Despite the sweep, the Beacons still remain in the hunt for the sixth seed in the Little East Conference Tournament because Keene State swept UMass Dartmouth. With a Western Connecticut win tomorrow, the Beacons will lock-up their second consecutive trip to the conference tournament.   

Senior third baseman Maria Nasta (Andover, Mass.) led the Beacons with three hits and two RBI on the day, while center fielder Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) added three hits and three runs for UMass Boston.

Jaci Goodwin (Melrose, Mass.) was the lone other Beacon to finish with more than a single hit, as she tallied two hits and a run on the day.

In game one, UMass Boston struggled to slow down the Warriors barrage in a five-inning mercy rule contest. The Warriors connected on six extra-base hits and 18 hits over four innings to earn the 16-2 win.

Bouyea paced UMass Boston with a 2-for-2 game and a run, while Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) added a double and a run.

On the circle, Kara Willis (Burrillville, R.I.) fell to 7-7 by allowing 16 runs, 15 earned over four innings against the high-power Warriors attack.

Dargon struck out the Beacons in order in the top of first inning and had five strikeouts through the first three innings.  Western gave Dargon all the game-one run support she would need when the first three Colonial batters all scored.  Senior Danielle Basciano was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first, and ended up scoring in all four plate appearances in game one. Amanda Rizzo and  Jackie Zilnicki followed Basciano home in the first to give Western a 3-0 lead after one inning of play.

The Colonials scored single runs in the second and third innings to push the lead to 5-0, but the Beacons got on the board in the top of the fourth. Bouyea hit a one-out single  and scored on a double by freshman Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.). Sophomore Erika Vecchiet (Pequannick, NJ) followed with a sacrifice fly, cutting the Western margin to 5-2.

In the bottom of the fourth, Western exploded for 11 runs on 11 hits, sending 14 batters to the plate.  Basciano hit a one-out single to start the rally and score the first run of the inning for the Colonials, and added a two-out home run in her second at-bat of the inning.  In between, Western strung together six singles, a double and a walk, with the only out coming when Zilnicki was thrown out at home as she tried to score on a Dargon single.

UMass Boston got a lead-off walk from pinch-hitter Kelsey Svenson (Oxford, Conn.) in the fifth, but she was doubled off first base when the next Beacon batter, sophomore Toni Scola (Worcester, MA), hit a sharp liner to Rizzo at second base.  Dargon got the final UMass Boston batter to strike out looking to secure the 16-2 win in game one for Western.

In game two, UMass Boston pieced together four runs and got a much stronger pitching performance but the Beacons couldn't solve Dargon. 

Freshmen starter Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) fell to 9-9 behind a six-inning performance allowing six runs, five earned on 13 hits. The freshmen also added five strikeouts.

Dargon was just too much though, as she recorded at least one strikeout in every inning, finishing with 12 for the game.  Bouyea drew a lead-off walk in the top of the first inning for UMass Boston as the Beacons took their first lead of the afternoon, but like game one, Western's first three batters scored to give the Colonials a 3-1 lead after one.

Dargon recorded two strikeouts in the second, one in the third, and three more in the fourth, as she dominated the Beacon batters.  Western added a run in the bottom of the third on three straight singles by Russo, sophomore Kylee Ruther and freshman Christine Bighinatti, tacked on one more in the fourth inning when Amanda Rizzo hit the first home run of her Western career over the fence in left field, and pushed the lead to 6-1 when Ruther hit a ball in the same spot in the fifth.

Dargon got the Beacon batters out in order in the top of the sixth, and in the bottom of the sixth Western was held scoreless as two of the three outs were the result of Western runners being thrown out while attempting to steal.

In the top of the seventh, freshman Lauren Perra (Taunton, MA) led off with a walk for UMass Boston and advanced to second on a one-out bunt-single by Goodwin. Bouyea loaded the bases for the Beacons with a single down the line in left field, and after another Dargon strikeout, Basta drove in one run for the visitors with a hard smash off the glove of Western third-baseman Nina Wojtkiewicz. With two out and the bases still loaded, and error by Rizzo at second base allowed two UMass Boston runs to score, but when the following batter grounded out to Basciano at short, Western held on for a 6-4 win and a sweep of the day's doubleheader.

UMass Boston will be back in action Sunday when they host Brandeis University on Senior Day at the UMass Boston Softball Field. The doubleheader will begin at noon. 

(Information for this release provided by the Western Connecticut State University sports information department.)