Emily Gray's Shutout Lifts Softball To Record Third Straight Postseason Appearance

BOSTON, Mass.—Freshman pitcher Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) carried UMass Boston (15-25, 5-9 Little East) to a playoff-clinching game one victory as the Beacons and Rhode Island College (19-21, 8-6 Little East) split a conference doubleheader on Senior Day at the UMB Softball Field.

Gray hurled her second collegiate shutout, scattering eight hits and one walk in a 2-0 game one victory for the Beacons. In the nightcap, junior Michelle Sylvestre record a shutout of her own, allowing just six hits through seven innings.

The Beacons honored their three seniors Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.), Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) and Kelsey Souza (Braintree, Mass.) after the conclusion of the doubleheader. The game one win proved extra special for the Beacons, as it was just the Beacons third ever win against Rhode Island College and first since 1994. 

With the game one victory, UMass Boston wrapped up the sixth seed in the next week's Little East Conference Tournament that will begin Thursday in Mansfield, Connecticut. The Beacons will take on top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University at Noon in the first game of the double-elimination style tournament.

Game One: UMass Boston 2, Rhode Island College 0

Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) and Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) each knocked in a run in backing Gray who picked up her team-leading eighth win of the season.

While Gray mowed down the Anchorwomen all afternoon long in the circle, Souza led UMB at the plate, with two hits in three at-bats against her former team. Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) joined Capra, Hemstock, Souza and Killilea with a hit apiece.

Stacy Pokora, Justina Thoma and Katelyn Sykora each finished with two hits apiece against Gray, but the Anchorwomen would fail to score, leaving eight runners on base. 

Senior Emily Johnson took the loss for Rhode Island College, despite allowing just two earned runs on seven hits. 

After a scoreless first inning, UMass Boston took the lead in the second behind some alert base-running from Souza. The senior third baseman led off with a single to right-center, stole second base and reached third on a wild pitch, before coming home on a one-out RBI single from Capra that never left the infield. Capra smashed a one bouncer right back at Johnson who kept the ball in front of her, but her throw over to first was not in time to retire the speedy Capra.

The Beacons pushed their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the third, when Killilea doubled to left field leading off and came in to score on a RBI single from Hemstock.

Gray would take it from there, as she continued to get stronger as the game went on. After putting two runners on base in each of the first three innings, Gray retired eight in a row at one point, and allowed just two hits over the final four innings.

Game Two: Rhode Island College 4, UMass Boston 0

With the pressure off after capturing a playoff spot, UMass Boston couldn't get anything going in game two, as Sylvestre cruised to her fourth win of the year.

Sylvestre, Thoma and Johnson all provided RBI hits for the Anchorwomen, while Marisa Jandreau and Tori Lussier each finished with a team-high two hits.

For the Beacons, Vecchiet finished with two hits, while Asta, Hemstock, Souza and Bouyea each picked up a lone base hit. 

Sophomore Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) took the loss, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits. The right-hander did manage to strike out five, while issuing zero free passes. 

Rhode Island College took their first lead of the day in the top of the first, when Thoma doubled to the left-field fence to plate Jandreau and Borden, who had reached on singles.

The Anchorwomen tacked on to their lead in the second when Lussier and Sylvestre double back-to-back to start off the inning. Zullo would calm down from there, striking out two of the next three batters to keep the damage to 3-0.

Johnson put the visitors ahead 4-0 in the top of the third, when she singled to right-center to score Jandreau from second base.

The Beacons put together their best chance of the game with two runners in scoring position with two down in the fifth, but Souza grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.