Softball Falls In Little East Conference Tournament

MANSFIELD, Conn.-- Despite a valiant effort, the Beacons dropped a pair of games in the Little East Conference Tournament at the Eastern Connecticut State University Softball Field to end their season. UMass Boston dropped game one 9-0 in a five-inning, mercy-rule game to host and #1 Eastern Connecticut State University (37-11), before falling 2-1 to #5 Western Connecticut State (28-14) University in a tight-fought game. 

The Beacons end their season at 17-21 overall which included their record second consecutive Little East Conference Tournament appearance. Seniors Maria Nasta (Andover, Mass.), Kara Willis (Burrillville, R.I.), Lisa Polsonetti (Revere, Mass.) and Jaci Goodwin (Melrose, Mass.) played their final games in Beacons Blue. The senior class finish their careers with a program-record 73 wins.

Nasta tatooed the ball all day going 3-for-4 with the lone Beacons RBI of the day. Junior Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) finished with two hits and the lone run of the day for UMass Boston. 

Game 1 vs. Eastern Connecticut

Playing amidst a soft rain and chilly conditions, the Beacons struggled to get their bats going against the regular season champion Warriors.

Killilea returned to the lineup after missing the final four games of the regular season and made an instant impact. She led off the game with an infield single and made several diving plays at shortstop. Nasta added a huge double to right-center field that was nearly a home run if not for the wind.

Willis got the start and battled through three-and-one third innings. Willis struggled in the first, allowing four runs, before settling down and allowing just one hit and one unearned run over the course of the next two innings. She couldn't make it out of the fourth though, as she finished with nine runs allowed, seven earned. Freshmen Amber O'Brien (Cumberland, R.I.) made her second appearance of the season in relief and allowed just one hit in two-third of an inning.

UMass Boston continued to struggle against senior pitcher Molly Rathbun, who struck out 11 batters and only allowed two hits en route to her 26th win of the season.

Game 2 vs. Western Connecticut

The Beacons jumped out to an early lead in game two and played an extremely competive game against Western Connecticut but couldn't get any luck at the plate. 

Freshman Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) was extremely effective, allowing just two earned runs in six innings against the best offense in Little East during the regular season. Zullo gave up just six hits and struck out three Colonials batters.

Nasta went 2-for-2 against Western Connecticut with an RBI but was forced out on double plays both times she reached base. Sophomore Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) reached base three times, with a single, walk and a hit by pitch. Polsonetti, Killilea and right fielder Lauren Perra (Taunton, Mass.) all added singles for the Beacons.

UMass Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning behind a big hit from Nasta. Killilea led off with an infield single to second and advanced to second when Polsonetti put down a sacrifice bunt. With one out and Killilea on second, Nasta crushed a ball through the middle on the ground and Killilea just beat the throw home to give the Beacons a 1-0 lead. The rally wouldn't last long though, as Amanda Perry (Worcester, Mass.) smashed a ball right at the pitcher, who snagged the line drive and doubled Nasta off second.

The Colonials answered in the bottom half of the inning, when Amanda Rizzo doubled and Jackie Zilnicki added one of her three singles. With runners on first and third, Western Connecticut pulled off a double steal and Rizzo just beat the throw home before Perry could apply the tag.

The Beacons put runners in scoring position in the second and third inning but couldn't get the big hit and it cost them in the third. Danielle Basciano came up with two outs in the bottom of the third and hit a fly ball to left field that just barely fell over the left field fence to make it a 2-1 game.

Zullo would run into trouble in the fifth and sixth in with runners on second and third base in each inning but both times she forced Colonials groundouts to keep the margin at one.

Bouyea gave the Beacons life in the top of the seventh with a hit by pitch and stolen base to put the tying run on second base. But after Perra walked with one out, the final two Beacon hitters popped up harmlessly to the Colonials.