March 15, 2014

Strong Pitching and Baserunning Lead Softball Past TCNJ 3-2 In Season-Opener

CLERMONT, Fla.—Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) scattered nine hits and two unearned runs over seven innings and the Beacons' aggressive base running proved just enough to help UMass Boston Softball earn a 3-2 victory over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Saturday morning's season opener. 

Gray struck out one and allowed just one walk to help the Beacons earn a win in their season opener for the fourth-consecutive season. The sophomore right-hander stranded 11 base-runners, including runners on first and second in the top of the seventh, when left-fielder Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.) made a game-saving catch at the warning-track.

Bove also had a big game at the plate, finishing a team-best 2-for-2 with two runs scored. The junior outfielder came in to score on an infield single in the third and crossed the plate with the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth.

Senior Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) finished the game 1-for-3 with the Beacons' lone RBI of the game, while junior Kelsey Svenson (Oxford, Conn.) went 1-for-3 and scored the Beacons' first run of the game.

Sophomore Haley Dutton (Milton, Mass.) and Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.) each recorded their first collegiate hits to help the Beacons reach six hits for the contest.

Ashtin Helmer was the tough-luck loser, allowing three runs, one earned, over six innings. Kristen Fitzsimmons led TCNH with two doubles and three total hits in four at-bats.

After four of the first five Beacons hitters struck out against Helmer, the Beacons put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the second to grab their first lead. Svenson singled to left-center and Gray followed with a hard hit ball to shortstop, that the Lions (3-7) shortstop bobbled and allowed both runners to reach. With Svenson on third after the error, the Beacons executed a double steal, with Svenson sliding in at home well ahead of the throw.

TCNJ struck back for two runs in the top of the third thanks to a pair of Beacons' errors. Fitzsimmons started off the rally with a one-out double and came in to score on Jessica Kenick's single, when the Beacons' throw from the outfield was off-line. With Kennick standing on third after the two-base error, she easily came home after another Beacons' throwing error to first base. Gray shut down the Lions from that point on though, stranding five runners in scoring position over the final five innings.

UMass Boston tied the game in the bottom of the third thanks to a single and a passed ball and wild pitch. Bove led off with a hard-hit single past the second baseman and moved over to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. With runners on first and third and no outs, Vecchiet lined a rocket at the shortstop for an infield single, to knock Bove in.

After a scoreless fourth, UMass Boston took their second lead of the day behind some more aggressive baserunning. Bove and Morse started the inning with back-to-back singles and moved up a base on a perfect sacrifice bunt by senior Toni Scola (Worcester, Mass.). With Vecchiet back up at the plate and a 1-1 count, Bove rushed home just ahead of the throw, after the Lions catcher couldn't keep the pitch from reaching the backstop.

Gray allowed a pair of baserunners in the sixth and seventh, but stranded all four runners, including one each at third base. 

The Beacons will be back in action at 1 p.m. when they take on Farmingdale State University at the Hancock Park Field Complex.