BOSTON, Mass.—Pitching ruled the day on Little East Conference opening day, as UMass Boston softball and Plymouth State University had to settle for a split on a cold Wednesday afternoon at the UMB Softball Field.
Plymouth State University 3, UMass Boston 0
UMass Boston 4, Plymouth State 3
(UMass Boston 14-4, Little East 1-1)
(Plymouth State 9-9, Little East 1-1)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Freshmen Caitlyn Miller and Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) both pitched extremely well, to earn their first collegiate conference wins.
Miller was dominant in the opener, as the southpaw allowed just six hits and one walk to improve to 5-1. Greenspan was nearly as good in the nightcap, her second game of the day, as she limited the Panthers to six hits and three runs to collect her league-leading 10th win of the year.
Freshman Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) paced the Beacons' offense with a 5-for-6 day. The freshman also added a run scored and two steals in her first appearance on the UMB Softball Field.
Miller retired the first eight batters she faced and the Panthers scored two unearned runs in the fifth, to cruise to a win in their "home opener." With Wednesday's game originally scheduled to be played in the New Hampshire, the Panthers were the designated home team and hit second.
Miller struck out six and walked one, while facing just eight batters over the minimum.
Prusmack finished a perfect 3-for-3 with two stolen bases, while junior Alyssa Tulley (Lowell, Mass.) added two singles of her own.
Cassidy Emerson, Jen Landers and Emma Rhodes each finished with two hits and an RBI for Plymouth State, with Landers also adding a run scored. In the leadoff spot, Nina Murray paced Plymouth State with three hits.
Plymouth State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Landers led off with a single and came in to score from third on a two-out single from Rhodes.
The Panthers tried to double their lead in the fourth, but UMass Boston turned an irregular double play. With runners at second and third and one out, Rhodes hit a ground ball to third; Tulley went home and got the lead runner, before Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) threw to second to get Rhodes trying to advance to second.
Plymouth State tacked on two unearned runs in the fifth. After an error put two on with no outs, UMass Boston retired back-to-back hitters, before Greenspan walked Abrie Davis to load the bases. Landers popped up on the infield, but the ball popped out of the glove of a full-extension, diving Vento to score Murray. Emerson followed with an RBI single to right to make it 3-1.
UMass Boston put together their best rally of the game in the seventh. Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) and Tulley recorded back-to-back singles and Prusmack loaded the bases with a one-out single. Miller calmed down from there, as she induced a fielder's choice where the Panthers got the runner at home and a strikeout, to close out the game.
UMass Boston jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second and held on, as Greenspan struck out Davis with the bases-loaded and two down in the bottom of the seventh.
Greenspan who has had to be a workhorse due to injuries to her fellow pitchers, threw a complete-game six hitter in game two. She struck out seven batters and walked three to close out a 13-inning day.
Offensively, Tulley and Vento each registered two hits and one RBI, while Prusmack and Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) chipped in with two hits and a run scored.
Davis, Emerson and Haley Birch each picked up a hit and an RBI for the Panthers.
In the circle, Allison Moylan took the loss after allowing four runs, three earned, in three-plus innings of work. Sophomore transfer Hannah Seidner came on for the final four innings and allowed two hits and two walks, while not allowing a run.
After leaving the bases loaded in the top of the first, UMass Boston struck for their first two runs of the day in the second.
Each of the first three batters singled to lead off the inning, but Moylan got a strikeout for the first out. Pawlina then nearly hit into an inning-ending double play, but the throw from the catcher to first base got away, and allowed Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) to score from second. Vento followed with a hard-hit RBI single to short that scored Prusmack, to make it 2-0 UMass Boston.
Plymouth State responded immediately in the bottom of the second. Emerson led off the inning with a single and motored home on a Haley Birch double to left to cut the deficit to 2-1. Greenspan would settle down from there, as she struck out two, and induced a groundout to first to leave Birch at third.
UMass Boston pushed across a single run in the third and the fourth. In the third, Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) worked a leadoff walk and scampered home on a one-out Tulley RBI single. Bilotta pushed the lead to 4-1 in the fourth, as her sacrifice fly to left was deep enough to score Braga with one out.
All the while Greenspan had been shutting down the Panthers offense. After giving up two hits to start the second, Greenspan retired 12 of the next 13, including 11 in a row between the second and the fifth.
Plymouth State would begin their comeback effort in the sixth. Katie Kennard opened the inning with a single and then raced home from first on Davis' RBI double to the wall in center. Davis' pinch runner, Autumn Beyor, moved to third on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on Emerson's RBI groundout to second.
The Panthers kept the pressure up in the seventh, as they looked for an LEC sweep.
Rhodes led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a sac bunt and third on a groundout to the right side. Greenspan would issue free passes to the next two batters, to bring Davis the junior DP to the plate. The count would run to 3-2, before Greenspan caught the outside corner to catch Davis looking and close out the conference win.
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston improved to 8-35 all-time against the Panthers. After snapping their nine-game losing streak against Plymouth State last spring, UMass Boston has now won two of the past three meetings.
- Greenspan is just the seventh pitcher in Beacons' program history to earn double-digit wins in a single-season in program history. With her 10 wins, she is just three wins shy of tying Emily Wolf ('11) and Annie Thomas's (Lunenburg, Mass.) single-season mark of 13 wins in a season.
- With her five hits on the day, Prusmack moved her batting average up to .412 on the season (21-for-51).
- Tulley has already matched her hit total from her freshman campaign. Tulley had 21 hits as a freshman and is hitting .396 as a sophomore with 21 hits in 43 fewer at-bats.
UMass Boston will play their official home opener on Saturday, when they host Eastern Connecticut State University in another LEC doubleheader. Saturday's doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m.