CLERMONT, Fla.—Day Two of the NTC Classic didn't prove quite as kind to the UMass Boston softball team (2-2), as the Beacons dropped a pair of contests to NESCAC opponents Sunday afternoon at the NTC Training Center.
After earning a pair of victories Saturday, the Beacons fell 4-1 to Bowdoin College (6-2) in game one, before dropping a 9-2 affair to #8 Tufts University in the night-cap.
Sophomore outfielder Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.) continued her torrid start to her career in Beacons Blue, with the Beacons only two RBI of the day and some terrific defense in left field.
Shortstop Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) added a team-high three hits in the doubleheader, while first baseman Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) reached base four times in seven trips to the plate.
Game one of day number two in the Beacons season-opening trip to Florida was a grind for UMB. Sophomore pitcher Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) struggled with her command and an erratic strike zone, as she issued four of her career-high seven batters in the first three innings, while the Polar Bears built a 4-1 lead.
The Beacons wouldn't go down quietly though, as UMB put two runners on with two outs in the seventh, only to have a key call against them, to put down their final rally.
Senior catcher Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) led the Beacons with her 28th career triple and UMB's lone run of the game, while Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.), Natalia Bouyea (Longmeadow, Mass.) and Asta all added base hits in the contest.
On the mound, Zullo struggled from the get-go, allowing 17 baserunners over seven innings, while giving up four runs, three earned. The sophomore did strike out five batters and held the Polar Bears scoreless over the course of the final four frames.
After Bowdoin jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first inning, UMB tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom half. Killilea reached second on a two-base error by the centerfielder and moved up to third on a wild pitch. The Beacons senior captain scampered home to tie the score at one on a double steal, as Hemstock got caught up in a run-down to allow Killilea to come home from third.
Bowdoin tacked on two runs in the second inning, behind two walks, one single and an error, and added a fourth run in the third to make it 4-1 after three.
That would be more than enough for junior pitcher Melissa DellaTorre who allowed one unearned run and just three hits in six innings of work.
UMass Boston would mount a rally in the seventh against freshman Nancy Walker, as they put runners on first and second for leadoff hitter Kelsey Souza (Braintree, Mass.) with two outs. After fouling off several pitches, Souza sprayed a ball down the first-base line that appeared to tip off the top of the first baseman's glove and go into foul territory, but the umpire ruled the apparent two-run double foul. Souza proceeded to fly out to left field and the Beacons fell to 2-1 on the year.
Game Two: #8 Tufts University 9, UMass Boston 2
Game two would be more of the same, as the nationally-ranked Jumbos registered 12 hits and three multi-run innings, while UMB struggled to put together any sustained rallies.
Bove provided the brunt of the offense with a two-run, two-out triple, while Souza, Asta and Hemstock each recorded a pair of hits. Junior Toni Scola (Worcester, Mass.) added a single and a run scored, while freshman pitcher Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) recorded her first career run in the contest.
Gray wouldn't fare as well on the mound, as she allowed 12 hits, nine runs and three walks over six innings of work.
For Tufts, junior All-American catcher Jo Clair finished 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Kayla Holland and Chrissie Massrey combined for five RBI.
Clair put the Jumbos ahead 2-0 in the top of the first with a two-out, two-run home run to dead center.
But the Tufts lead wouldn't last long. In the top half of the second Bove responded with a blast of her own. After Tufts pitcher Aly Moskowitz issued a pair of free passes, Bove sent a line-shot over the right-fielder's head and to the wall, to score Scola and Gray and even the score at 2-2.
Tufts grabbed the lead back for good in the fourth though, as Holland's bases-clearing triple through the left-side of the infield made it 5-2, and she came home on a sacrifice fly one batter later.
The Jumbos looked as if they were on pace to earn a mercy-rule victory with a 9-2 lead after four, but Gray and the Beacons' defense grinded it out over the final two innings.
Needing just one run to put the Beacons away in the fifth, Tufts put runners on first and second with one out with the top of the order coming up. Center fielder Michelle Cooprider sent a long fly to left that looked like it was going to fall, only to be robbed by Bove-who made a basket catch to extend the game.
In the sixth inning, a pair of strong defensive plays by Asta were enough to push the game to a full seven innings.
UMass Boston will take Monday off, before returning to the diamond Tuesday for a 1 p.m. contest vs. SUNY Geneseo and a 3 p.m. start against the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire.