Softball Cruises To Pair Of Victories On Opening Day, Natalia Ardagna Picks Up 100th Career Win

Softball Cruises To Pair Of Victories On Opening Day, Natalia Ardagna Picks Up 100th Career Win

CLERMONT, Fla.—UMass Boston started off the season with a bang Saturday afternoon, sweeping a pair of regional opponents to help head coach Natalia Ardagna reach her 100th career victory at Hancock Field.

Ardagna earned the historic victory with a 13-0 mercy rule victory over Thomas College (1-6), before the Beacons moved to 2-0 with a 6-2 win over Bates College (3-3). Already the winningest head coach in program history, Ardagna reached the century-mark in just her 220th career game, and stands just 18 wins shy of 100 wins at UMB.

While the Beacons offense had a terrific day across the board, the biggest story for UMB was their pitching. Sophomore Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) picked up where she left off in her freshman season with a five-inning, two hit shutout of the Terriers; while freshman Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) earned her first career victory with a seven-inning complete game.

The pair combined to allow no earned runs and just eight hits over 13 innings, while striking out nine batters.

At the plate, senior catcher Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) continued her historic pursuit of the record books with a 5-for-7 day and four runs scored. Killilea recorded a pair of triples to move into a tie for 20th all-time in DIII history with 27 career triples, and needs just four more triples to move into a tie for 10th all-time.

First baseman Samantha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) and second baseman Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) combined for five runs and six RBI, while transfer Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.) blasted the Beacons lone home run of the day, to go along with four hits and three RBI.

GAME ONE: UMass Boston 13, Thomas College (Maine) 0--5 Innings 

UMass Boston kicked off the contest with a seven-run outburst in the top of the first inning and never looked back in a mercy-rule win over the Terriers. The Beacons tacked on a five-spot in the third inning and cruised to a 13-0 victory to win their third straight season-opener in a row.

Zullo was dominant in her first appearance of the season, striking out six, and allowing just two baserunners in five innings.

Offensively every starter recorded a hit, with six different Beacons notching two hits. Killilea led the way, going 2-for-4 with two hits and three RBI, while Bove finished 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBI.

Senior third baseman Kelsey Souza (Braintree, Mass.) enjoyed a great return to the diamond after a five-year hiatus, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI out of the leadoff spot.

After putting their first four batters on base, Vecchiet sparked the Beacons rally with a two-run double to put the Beacons ahead 3-0. An illegal pitch and RBI singles from Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.), Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) and Bove made it 7-0 through a half-inning of play. 

The Beacons made it 12-0 after three innings of play when Killilea blasted a two-run triple to the right-field fence and came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Hemstock.

UMass Boston capped off the scoring in the fourth, when Bove blasted her first collegiate home-run over the right-field fence to make it 13-0. 

Zullo put Thomas College down in order in the fourth and fifth, to earn her 11th career victory in 23 starts.

GAME TWO: UMass Boston 6, Bates College 2

Game two was more of the same, as the Beacons rode some timely-hitting and Gray's strong pitching performance to a 6-2 win over the Bobcats.

The Beacons scored three runs with two outs and cracked out a pair of doubles and triples to score five runs over the course of the first three innings.

Gray held up her end of the bargain, going seven inning strong, allowing two unearned runs and six hits. The freshman right-hander struck out three and allowed just one walk.

Killilea cracked out three hits in three trips to the plate, while registering two runs and two RBI. Hemstock added two hits, two runs and two RBI, including one of the Beacons four stolen bases.

UMass Boston jumped out to another early lead, when Hemstock flared a single down the right-field line to score Killilea-who reached on a triple to right-field. Two batters later, Hemstock came in to score on a double-steal, when Vecchiet forced a throw down to second base-that allowed Hemstock to come home.

After Bates College tied the game at 2 in the top of the third, the Beacons rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Killilea started off the inning with a one-out double to center and came in to score on an RBI single from Hemstock. The Beacons made it 4-2 when Vecchiet blasted a triple to right field to easily score Hemstock, and Vecchiet came across to score on a wild pitch three batters late to put UMB ahead 5-2.

The Beacons added on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, when Toni Scola (Worcester, Mass.) bashed a double to the right-field fence and scored on an RBI groundout from Bove.