Simmons Sweeps Softball In Home-Opening Doubleheader

BOSTON, Mass.—In only the third and fourth games between inter-city rivals UMass Boston (5-9) and Simmons College (8-4), the Sharks got the better of the Beacons, taking both ends of the doubleheader at the UMB Softball Field.

Simmons College slipped by the Beacons with a 3-1 win in Game One behind two late runs, only to hang on to an early 4-1 lead to earn a 4-3 win and the doubleheader sweep in Game Two.

Junior Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) led the Beacons with three hits on the day, while sophomore catcher Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) registered three of the Beacons four RBI on the day.

A big story for the Beacons was the return of senior captain Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.). The senior First Team All Conference catcher had missed the past seven games due to an injury and slowly came into form during the doubleheader. After going 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Game One, Killilea went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in the second contest.

Game One: Simmons College 3, UMass Boston 1

Simmons used three late Beacons errors to score a run each in the sixth and seventh and earn a 3-1 win over UMB in game number one.

While the Sharks offense struggled to get anything going, sophomore Lauren Backhaus was dominant on the mound for Simmons. The reigning GNAC Rookie of the Year threw a complete-game three-hitter, allowing one earned run and striking out eight.

For the Beacons, Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) was the tough-luck loser, allowing five hits and one earned run in seven innings.

Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI single for UMB, while Vecchiet blasted a double for the only extra-base hit of the game for either team and scored UMB's lone run.

The Sharks went on top 1-0 in the top of the third, when Christina Mulcahy led off with a single and came home to score on a two-out RBI single from Hannah Cunningham.

UMass Boston evened the score in the fifth, when Vecchiet broke up Backhaus' no-hit bid with a double by Jen Field in left field. Two batters late, Capra laced an RBI single over the third-baseman's head to score Vecchiet and tie the game at 1-1.

Simmons went ahead for good in the next half-inning, when Emily Cunningham raced home all the way from second on a ball that never left the infield, thanks to a pair of Beacons' errors.

The road team tacked on another run in the seventh, thanks to a pair of singles and a Beacons error and UMB went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning.

Game Two: Simmons College 4, UMass Boston 3

Game two would be much more eventful, as the two teams traded leads and scored seven runs over the first three innings, before both sophomore starting pitchers settled in.

Hemstock led the Beacons effort with all three RBI and UMB's lone extra-base hit of the game, a 2-run double in the third. Vecchiet added three hits in four at-bats, while Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) recorded two singles in the plate appearances.

Alaina DeNoncour and Backhaus accounted for the majority of the Sharks damage, as the pair combined for five hits, two runs and one RBI.

On the mound, Amanda Cordeiro picked up her third win of the year, by allowing three earned runs over seven innings.

UMass Boston's Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) gave up four runs, three earned on eight hits and struck out two. The Beacons right-hander also recorded the first two at-bats of her collegiate career, finishing 0-for-2 before being pinch-hit for in the sixth inning.

The Beacons jumped all over Cordeiro in the bottom of the first, loading the bases with one out, but only pushed one across on a sacrifice fly from Hemstock, thanks to some alert defense from Simmons.

Simmons evened the score at 1-1 in the second, after three straight singles and almost made it 2-1, if not for a tremendous block of the plate from Hemstock.

The Sharks grabbed the lead for good in the third, when they plated three runs behind three hits and a walk. H. Cunningham led off the inning with a walk and moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. She easily scored when her sister E. Cunningham singled up the middle to make it 2-1 Simmons. After a DeNoncour double to left field put runners on second and third, Backhaus made it 3-1 with another sharp-single up the middle. Mulcahy put the Sharks ahead 4-1 on a controversial groundout, as DeNoncour was ruled safe on a play at the plate in which Hemstock appeared to have the plate blocked.

The run would prove to be crucial, as UMB answered back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, but left two more stranded in scoring position.

Three of the first four Beacons reached in the inning, as Kelsey Souza (Braintree, Mass.) and Vecchiet singled and Killilea walked, to bring Hemstock to the plate. With the bases loaded and one out, Hemstock sent an 0-2 pitch to the foot of the fall, to score Souza and Killilea and make it 4-3. But that would be all the Beacons could muster, as the Sharks threw out the lead runner at home for out number two and Zullo grounded out to end the inning.

Both pitchers settled down from their, as the two teams combined for just six hits over the final four innings.

UMass Boston put together a mini two-out rally in the seventh, with back-to-back baserunners reaching, but Hemstock lined out to E. Cunningham at first to end the game.

UMass Boston will open their Little East Conference slate Saturday at Eastern Connecticut State University beginning at 1 p.m. The Sharks will return to the UMB Softball Field Saturday at 2 p.m. for a doubleheader against GNAC foe Albertus Magnus University.