PAWTUCKET, R.I.—For the first time in program history, UMass Boston softball collected two of the major awards, as sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) and freshman Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) were named the Little East Conference Player and Pitcher of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Beacons' battery propelled UMass Boston to their first Little East Conference Regular Season and Tournament Titles and first NCAA Tournament appearance over the past 10 days. They are the first players in program history to earn either award.
Both players earned spots on the LEC First Team and senior Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) carved out a spot on the LEC Second Team. The Beacons two first team honorees ties a program record, matching the 2016 team's haul.
Vento put together one of the most impressive offensive seasons in program history. The reigning LEC Rookie of the Year broke the program record for doubles (18) and runs batted in (39) in a single-season, and also ranks second in hits (55) and total bases (79). She started and appeared in all 39 games and posted a .440 batting average, a .493 on-base percentage and a .632 slugging percentage. She also tacked on 18 runs scored, two home runs and 14 walks. In addition to her jaw-dropping offensive stats, Vento posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage behind the plate, and threw out six would be base runners (24 percent).
Her numbers were even in better in LEC play. She led the conference with a .500 batting average (26-for-52) and paced the conference in hits (26), runs batted in (16) and doubles (10). Vento hit safely in 31 of her 39 appearances and recorded multiple hits in 18 contests.
She came up in the clutch all season long, keying numerous comebacks or coming through with the game-winning hit. In Florida alone, Vento came through with rally-sparking RBI hits against Trinity College and Wesleyan University in comeback wins, and then drove in the winning run against MCLA. She saved her best for the reigning LEC Tournament Champion Western Connecticut State University. Vento went 3-for-4 with three doubles and three RBI to clinch the Beacons' first LEC Tournament Title, and then hit a go-ahead grand slam in the Beacons' first round LEC Tournament win over the Colonials. Vento became the 14th player in program history to reach 100 career hits on Saturday May 5, when she belted a single in the LEC Championship Series.
Greenspan burst onto the scene this spring, as the right hander put together the best season in the circle in program history. With the other two members of the Beacons' rotation going down for several weeks in the middle of the season, Greenspan single handedly carried the load throughout late March and the first week of April. Despite her heavy workload, she set the single-season program records for wins (19), saves (three), appearances (31) and innings pitched (174.2). Greenspan also became the third player in school history to post over 100 strikeouts in a season (105) and ranks third in earned run average (2.32).
She appeared in 12 of the Beacons' 14 LEC conference contests and started 10 of those games. In conference play, Greenspan recorded six victories and one save and posted a 2.32 earned run average, while recording 42 strikeouts, compared to just 20 walks. She was even better during the LEC Tournament. After being tagged for eight runs in six-plus innings in a slugfest in the LEC Tournament First Round, Greenspan allowed just five runs (four earned) over her final 24 innings pitched. She was named the LEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player after going 1-0 with a save in the LEC Championship Series. In those two games against top-seeded and host Plymouth State University, Greenspan gave up just nine hits and two runs (one earned) over 10 innings of play.
In her 31 total appearances, Greenspan allowed one earned run or fewer in 15 contests, and posted a shutout performance on five occasions. Greenspan put together one of her best outings in her second collegiate appearance. She threw a five-inning no-hitter against Lancaster Bible College on March 12, where she struck out nine and walked two. In the span of a week in mid April, Greenspan threw shutouts against UMass Dartmouth and Salem State University and allowed zero earned runs in a win over Rhode Island College.
Raczkowski earns her first All-Conference honors, after putting together a career year during her final campaign. The senior catcher/right fielder set new career highs in almost every statistical category. Raczkowski posted a career-high .352 batting average, .451 on-base percentage and just missed out on a career-high in slugging percentage (.566). She also racked up career-highs in hits (43), runs scored (28), doubles (11), home runs (five), runs batted in (35), walks (20) and stolen bases (7-for-7). She threw out 26.7 percent of the runners who attempted to steal bases against her (4-for-11) and posted a .960 fielding percentage.
Raczkowski spent most of her senior season moving up the Beacons' record books. Within a 10-day span in mid-April, she set the program record for career doubles (40) and home runs (13). She also moved into the top five in program history in career games played (144 – fourth), at-bats (430 –third), hits (140 – third), runs batted in (79 – third) and total bases (229 –second).
She hit safely in 27 of 38 contests, including 10 multi-hit games. Raczkowski had three different four-RBI games, including a huge performance against NCAA Tournament particiapant Salve Regina University. In a 9-5 eight-inning win over the Seahawks, Raczkowski went 3-for-5 with a run scored and four RBI, including a go-ahead three-run single in the top of the eighth inning. She also came up huge during the LEC Tournament. Raczkowski put the Beacons into the LEC Championship series by scoring the game-winning run against #2 Eastern Connecticut State University and then forced a game two against #1 Plymouth State by recording a game-winning two run single in game one.
The trio will open NCAA Tournament play on Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Amherst College.