CLERMONT, Fla.--A pair of strong pitching performances proved too much for UMass Boston softball (1-5) on Day Three of the Beacons' trip to the National Training Complex, as the Beacons fell 2-1 to #20 William Paterson University (6-1) and 8-0 in six innings to MCLA (3-4) on Thursday afternoon.
In the first contest, Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) and the Beacons went toe-to-toe with their first nationally ranked foe of the season, with the Pioneers scoring two late runs to escape with the victory.
MCLA's Rachel Quackenbush was the story of game two, as the pitcher struck out 12 and took a no-hitter into the fifth for the Trailblazers.
Senior center fielder Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) had one of the Beacons' seven hits on the day and played elite defense in center field, to get the Beacons out of numerous jams. She finished the day with seven putouts, including several running catches on balls that would have gone for extra-bases.
Game One: #20 William Paterson 2, UMass Boston 1
UMass Boston played one of, if not their best game of the spring, in game one, as the Beacons nearly came away with their second win over a nationally-ranked team in program history.
Gray scattered nine hits and two earned runs over six innings and struck out two against the Pioneers. She stranded six Pioneers on base and was a few inches away from shutting out William Paterson.
After grabbing a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, UMass Boston gave up two-out runs in the fifth and sixth to drop their third-straight contest.
Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.), Kelsey Cruse (Worcester, Mass.) and Haley Dutton (Milton, Mass.) each finished with hits for UMass Boston, while senior Samanatha Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) scored UMass Boston's lone run.
The Beacons scored their lone run in the fourth on a pair of Pioneers errors. With Hemstock on second and Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.) on an error and a walk, freshman Kaera Wyse (Danvers, Mass.) lofted a flare into short right field that the second baseman dropped, to allow Hemstock to scurry home from second.
After a scoreless bottom of the fourth, the Pioneers were able to tie the game behind a brilliant slide by Kaitlyn Poretti. With two down and Poretti on second, Gabrielle Castelli sent a sharp single through the left slide, that Dutton charged and threw a strike to the plate. Despite the throw beating Poretti home, the shortstop evaded the tag and somehow got her hand on home plate to tie the game.
The Pioneers grabbed their first and only lead of the game in the sixth. Kelsey Wimmershoff singled off the top of Gray's glove with a runner on third and two outs, to make it 2-1 in favor of William Paterson.
Gabrielle Castelli got the win for William Paterson, after pitching three innings of scoreless relief in which she allowed only one runner to reach-on an error.
Game Two: MCLA 8, UMass Boston 0
After putting together one of their most impressive performances of the spring, the Beacons couldnt keep the momentum going against intra-state opponent MCLA.
Quackenbush dominated the Beacons hitters by striking out 12 and taking a perfect game into the fourth and a no-hitter into the fifth. With Quackenbush holding the Beacons' offense in check, the Trailblazers scored two runs in the first and tacked on six more runs in the sixth to earn a run-rule shortened win.
Capra, Gray, Morse and Hemstock all registered a hit apiece for the Beacons, who saw their season batting average drop by over 60 points on the day.
Senior pitcher Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) allowed six earned runs in the loss and struck out three.
Five of the first six batters of the game reached for MCLA on two hits, two errors and a hit by pitch to quickly make it 2-0 in favor of the road team. Zullo would do a good job of limiting the damage, as she stranded three MCLA batters in each of the first three innings. For the game, MCLA would leave 12 runners on base.
After failing to get a runner on base through the first three-and-two-thirds, Raczkowski finally reached base for UMass Boston on a base on balls.
The Beacons threatened in the fifth inning, but couldn't find a way to scratch a run across against Quackenbush. Gray and Morse recorded back-to-back singles and with the two runners on second and third, the MCLA pitcher notched back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam.
MCLA would blow the game wide open in the top of the sixth, as they recorded six runs on six hits and three more Beacons' errors.
UMass Boston will return to action Thursday for their final two games of their Spring Break trip in Florida. The Beacons will take on Amherst College at 9 a.m. and then close out their trip with Lancaster Bible College at 11 a.m.