Softball Sweeps A Pair On Opening Day

Softball Sweeps A Pair On Opening Day

CLERMONT, Fla.—Behind a pair of complete team performances, UMass Boston softball earned their first Opening Day sweep since 2013 Saturday morning at the Hancock Park Complex.

THE BASICS

UMass Boston 7, Western New England 2

UMass Boston 5, Olivet College 2

(UMass Boston 2-0)

(Western New England 0-1)

(Olivet College 1-7) 

HOW IT HAPPENED

Sophomore Annie Thomas (Lunenburg, Mass.) and freshman Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) combined to allow just three earned runs to pave the way in the circle. 

At the plate, freshmen Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) and Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) both had huge debuts at the plate. Braga went a team-best 5-for-7 with two runs, two RBI and two steals. While Bilotta produced a team-high four RBI to go along with three hits and one run scored. 

GAME ONE RECAP

After stranding a runner at second in the top of the first, UMass Boston scored four runs in bottom of the inning and tacked on another in the second, to cruise to a season-opening win.

Bilotta and senior Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) each had key two-run hits in the opener, while Raczkowski and sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) each crossed the plate twice.

In the circle, Thomas allowed just four hits and two runs, one earned, over seven innings. The sophomore struck out four and walked three to earn her first win of the season.

Western New England's Lindsay Williams and Gabby Lavinio each finished with one hit and one RBI to lead the Commonwealth Coast Conference Preseason Favorites.

Senior Samantha DiGiovanni took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, in 1.1 innings. Freshman Aimee Kistner made her collegiate debut in relief and limited the damage to two runs in 4.2 innings.

The first four Beacons reached in the bottom of the first inning as UMass Boston's offense opened the season with a bang. Kaitlyn "KMO" Morse (Arlington, Mass.) walked and moved to second on a Braga single. Vento was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Raczkowski promptly made it 2-0 with a two-run single to right. The Beacons pushed the lead to 3-0 on a Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) sacrifice fly and Raczkowski scampered home on a wild pitch.

UMass Boston made it 5-0 in the second, when Vento's rocketed a groundball at the shortstop-who botched the play, to allow Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) to cross the plate.

The Golden Bears scored their lone runs of the game in the top of the third. With runners on second and third after a passed ball, Williams hit a soft grounder to third and the runner from third beat the throw home. Lavinio followed with a deep fly ball to score the runner from third and make it 5-2. 

UMass Boston stretched their lead to 7-2 in the fifth. Vento singled with one out and advanced to second on a Raczkowski walk. With two down and no advancement, Bilotta roped a triple into the right-center field gap to easily score two.

Western New England tried to answer right back in the top of the sixth. The Golden Bears used a pair of softly hit singles and a walk to load the bases, but Thomas got the final batter to strike out with the bases loaded.

The visitors would go down 1-2-3 in the seventh to complete the Beacons' first win of the season.

GAME TWO RECAP

UMass Boston scored two runs each in the third and fifth innings and Greenspan stranded eight baserunners to help the Beacons complete the sweep.

Braga put together the top offensive performance, as the freshman shortstop went 3-for-4 with a run scored, two RBI and a stolen base. Bilotta tacked on two hits and two RBI, while freshman Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas), Morse and Pawlina each finished with one run and one hit. 

Greenspan allowed just nine hits and one walk, while striking out five.

Comets pitcher Gracie Boyle fell to 1-3 after allowing nine hits and two earned runs in seven innings. She also struck out seven batters, while walking zero.

Olivet was the first team to threaten to score in game two, as they loaded the bases with one out in the second. Carrie Chamberlain lifted a fly ball to right field, but Prusmack made the catch and then mowed down the runner from third at the plate to complete an inning-ending double play.

Prusmack would start the Beacons' running-scoring rally to start the next half inning. She opened the inning with a bunt single and moved to second on a Pawlina bunt single. Morse followed with a single right up the middle to load the bases with no down. On the second pitch of her at-bat, Braga laid down a suicide squeeze that found its way past three charging infielder on the left side to score a pair of runners. 

The Beacons doubled their lead in the top of the fifth. Braga opened the inning with a single to shortstop and then scored on a wild play. Vento hit a soft grounder to second, but the second baseman's throw went off the shortstop's glove and into left field. With Braga racing towards third base, the left fielder overran the ball to allow Braga to come in to score. Two batters later, pinch runner Chaislyn Burgio (Quincy, Mass.) dashed home on a Bilotta two-out RBI single. 

Bilotta and the Beacons added one more run for insurance in the seventh, with the freshman third baseman plating Morse with another two-out RBI single.

Olivet broke up the shutout with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. With two runners on and two down, Taylor Smith dumped an RBI double into right-center between two Beacons' outfielders, to cut the deficit to 5-2. Greenspan would get the final batter to strike out swinging to secure her first collegiate win.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • The Beacons started the year 2-0 for the first time since 2013. UMass Boston hasn't started 4-0 since the 2012 season.
  • UMass Boston didn't commit an error in 14 innings of work. The Beacons turned two doubles plays on the day. Braga (10 assists, 3 putouts) and Mitsiaris (17 putouts) each had over 12 chances on the day.
  • UMass Boston improved to 5-10 all-time against the Golden Bears and snapped a two-game Florida losing streak against Western New England. Satuday's contest marked the first-ever meeting against Olivet College.
  • Five freshmen made their collegiate debuts on the day, while Burgio made her softball collegiate debut. 

WHO'S NEXT 

UMass Boston will travel to Leesburg, Florida on Sunday to take on Trinity College (Conn.) at 1 p.m. and Lancaster Bible College at 3:30 p.m.