CLERMONT, Fla.—UMass Boston Softball (1-3) fell just short in their first effort against regional foes, falling 7-1 to #20 Babson College and 3-1 to Western New England University on a rainy, dreary day at the NTC Spring Games Main Complex.
After sticking close with the Beavers (4-2) through the first four innings and eventually falling 7-1, the Beacons traded zeros through much of Tuesday's second contest, before a lengthy rain delay eventually cost the Beacons a chance at a comeback.
With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the teams dealt with a 39-minute rain delay, before Western New England opened up a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth. After both teams were retired once more, the Beacons put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the sixth, before the heavy rain and lightning forced another delay. The two teams came out and started warming up 75 minutes later, but the umpires and grounds-crew ruled the field unplayable, awarding the Golden Bears (3-3) a 3-1 win.
Juniors Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.) and Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) led the Beacons with two hits and an outfield assist apiece on the day. Capra recorded the Beacons' lone run of game one and threw a runner at home plate, while Bove went 2-for-2 in game two, with an RBI and an outfield assist at home plate.
Game One: #20 Babson 7, UMass Boston 1
All-American pitcher Kathleen Conway proved too much for the Beacons in game One, as she struck out 14 and allowed just three hits and one unearned run. The Beavers' offense provided plenty of support for their senior ace with 10 hits and six two-out runs to hand the Beacons' their second-straight defeat.
Sophomore Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) got the start and allowed seven hits and five runs, four earned, over 4.2 innings pitched. Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) came in in relief of Gray and gave up two earned runs on three hits in 1.1 innings.
Emily Morris, Christa Shorette and Meaghan Merullo each recorded two RBI for the Beavers, who appeared in the New England Regional Final last season, before falling to national champion Tufts University.
Babson took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning, before putting the game out of reach with a three-run rally. Maya Lacy led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to third on a Merullo single with one out. Morris knocked Lacy in with an RBI single and both Merullo and Morris scampered home two batters later, when Shorette blooped a single into right field.
Capra broke up Conway's no-hitter in the top of the sixth with a single into shallow center field. She moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt and the Beacons put runners on the corners after Morse bunted for a single. The Beacons scratched across a run two pitches later: Morse stole second base, but the catcher attempted to pick Capra off third. The catcher's throw flew into left field, allowing Capra to rush home and cut the deficit to 5-1. UMass Boston loaded the bases with back-to-back walks, but Conway registered her 11th strikeout of the day, to stem the rally.
Merullo added a two-run double to right-center field in the top of the sixth to push the lead back to 7-1. UMass Boston mustered just one base-runner in the top of the seventh, as Conway struck out the final three batters she faced.
Game Two: Western New England 3, UMass Boston 1
Game two proved to be much closer, as UMass Boston and Western New England both aimed to get at least one win on the day.
Bove and senior Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) each finished with a pair of hits in the contest, with Bouyea scoring the lone UMass Boston run on a Bove RBI single. Capra accounted for UMass Boston's final hit, as the Golden Bears' ace Lauren Zambrano limited the Beacons to five hits, two walks and one unearned run over 5.1 innings.
Zullo struck out three batters and allowed six hits and three unearned runs over six innings in her best outing of the spring thus far.
Western New England got out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, when Maria Francese singled with one out, stole second and raced home on a Beacons' throwing error with two outs in the inning.
The Beacons evened the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. After Morse walked and was caught stealing to lead off the inning, Bouyea singled to right field and advanced to second on a fielding error. Zambrano struck out the next batter, but Bove delivered with a two-out single through the right-side to plate Bouyea.
Neither side would score in the next three innings, thanks to some strong defense. Bove threw out Zambrano at home plate for the third out in the top of the third, but the Golden Bears responded, as Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) was thrown out at home to close the bottom of the fourth.
Western New England took the lead for good in the top of the fifth on a pair of singles and three UMass Boston errors. The first two batters reached on errors and Samantha Mulhern came in to score on a throwing error to make it 2-1. Two batters later, Hannah Hill came in to score on an Alexis Bukowski one-out single.
UMass Boston started a rally to start the sixth when Bouyea singled to center and Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) worked a walk to put two runners on with one out. The umpires called the game as Bove walked to the plate, but the Beacons held out hope that play would resume. After an 80-minute delay, the NTC Spring Games staff finally called the game, awarding the Golden Bears the victory.
UMass Boston will return to action Tuesday when they host Manchester University (Ind.) at 9:00 a.m. and #1 Tufts University at 11:00 a.m. at the Minneola Complex.