BOSTON, Mass. – The University of Saint Joseph softball team won the first game of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader, 5-2, before dropping the second game, 4-1, to earn a split with the Simmons College Sharks on Sunday afternoon at Daly Field in Brighton, Mass. The Blue Jays are now 18-11 overall on the season and 11-4 in GNAC play, while the Sharks move to 11-22 overall and 6-12 in the conference.
Junior shortstop Sarah Ercoli (East Granby, Conn.) was 4-7 at the plate with a double, RBI and two runs scored to lead St. Joseph on the afternoon, while sophomore first baseman Rachel Dube (Southington, Conn.) finished 3-6 with a run scored over the two games. Freshman pitcher Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) swung a big bat with a pair of triples, two RBI and two runs scored.
Freshman center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) led Simmons, going 4-7 with a triple, a double, a RBI and three runs scored, while rookie second baseman Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.) and sophomore Sam Curran (Concord, N.H.) each collected three hits, scored a run and drove in a run each for the day. Freshman Bridget Garach (West Hartford, Conn.) drove in two runs with a single and a double and also picked up a save.
Game 1 - USJ 5, Simmons 2
The Blue Jays scored three times in the top of the third inning to spell the winning margin for game one. Sophomore designated player Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) and Ercoli each stroked one out singles, before Sharon tripled home both runners to give the visitors an early 2-0 lead. Dube reached on a fielder's choice and later scored on a single to left off the bat of freshman Brianna Barfield (North Attleboro, Mass.) for a three-run margin.
The Sharks got a run back in the bottom half of the fourth when Hennessey, first year Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) and Curran all singled to load the bases to set up a one-out RBI single off the bat of sophomore right fielder Michaela Reeves (Reading, Mass.). Sharon was able to induce a pair of pop-ups to end the inning however, and keep it a 3-1 game for St. Joseph.
The Blue Jays scored single runs in the fifth and seventh to take a 5-1 cushion. Sharon legged out a leadoff triple in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch, while Ercoli belted a leadoff double in the seventh and scored on a two-out, RBI single by freshman catcher McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.).
Down to their final three outs, Simmons looked to rally in its half of the seventh when Hennessey cracked a one-out triple and came around to score on a single to center by Soqui, but Sharon got the final two outs for the win.
Sharon (16-7) scattered 11 hits over seven complete innings and allowed two runs and a walk for St. Joseph, while striking out three. Soqui (2-5) suffered the loss for the Sharks, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks to go with three strike outs in seven innings.
Game 2 - USJ 1, Simmons 4
Simmons wasted no time getting on the board in the nightcap with senior third baseman Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) leading off the frame with a hustle double to center field and later scoring on a ground out to third by Hennessey to take an early 1-0 edge. The Sharks tacked on another run in the second when Curran was plunked on the leg by a pitch and later scored on a double down the left field line by Garach to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Jays cut the deficit in half with a run in the fifth to make it 2-1. Freshman center fielder Taylor Marino (Middlefield, Conn.) stroked a double to right-center to lead off the inning and later scored on a single to center off the bat of Ercoli.
Simmons added two insurance runs in the sixth though, to account for the 4-1 final. Hennessey led off the sixth with a double down the right field line and later scored on a single to left by Del Vacchio. Garach followed with an RBI single to make it 4-1, after Del Vacchio had moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
USJ would not go quietly in the top of the seventh however, with singles from Ercoli, Dube and sophomore third baseman Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.), but were unable to push any runs across as Garach closed out the game for the Sharks with her league-leading third save of the season.
Sophomore right-hander Tori Gomes (Taunton, Mass.) (3-11) earned the victory for Simmons, allowing one run on three hits and four walks to go with a strike out in four and a third innings of work. Garach threw two and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball in relief, yielding five hits and a walk and fanned a batter. Sharon gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out a batter in six complete innings for the Blue Jays.
The USJ softball team returns to Boston on Wednesday for their next set of games as they take on GNAC opponent Emmanuel College at Roberto Clemente Field for a 6:30 p.m. doubleheader.