Top Seeds Take Home Wins on Day One of Softball Championship
BOSTON -- High seeds prevailed on day one of the 2011 America East Softball Championship as top-seeded Boston University downed fourth-seeded UMBC in the tournament opener and second-seeded University at Albany snuck past third-seeded Binghamton University in the nightcap.
Boston U. (33-16) used a potent offensive attack as it beat UMBC (25-24), 9-1, in a shortened, six-inning contest. Albany (26-21) prevailed, 2-1, over Binghamton (22-22) in a low-scoring affair that went nine innings.
In the first game, Boston U. got the scoring started when Chelsea Kehr hit a one-out double to drive in Jayme Mask. The next batter, Amy Ekart, brought home April Setterlund, the America East Co-Player of the Year, with a sacrifice fly to left to give the Terriers an early 2-0 lead.
The Terrier offense really heated up in the bottom of the third. Megan Volpano started the rally with a double to center, which was followed by a walk to Kehr. Volpano later scored on a single down the third-base line by Ekart to push the Terrier lead to 3-0. The next batter, Whitney Tuthill, hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Christina Valdes, who was pinch running for Kehr. Ekart then scored from third on a successful squeeze bunt by Melanie Delgado. Erica Casacci capped the four-run rally with a sacrifice fly to bring in Brittany Clendenny, who reached base after getting hit by a pitch earlier in the frame. The Terrier's held a 6-0 lead after putting four runs across in the inning.
UMBC got on the board with its only run of the contest in the top of the fifth. Katie Ferguson doubled to center and then moved to third after a wild pitch by Holli Floetker. After a walk to Ashley Scroggin, Ferguson scored on a single to left by Lynn Pronobis.
Boston U. answered in the bottom of the frame as Jayme Mask singled to drive in Tuthill and Casacci, pushing the Terrier lead to 8-1. The Terriers ended the game in the bottom of the sixth when Ekart scored on a sacrifice fly by Casacci. Ekart finished the day 3-for-3 at the dish with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Floetker, the America East Pitcher of the Year, was solid in the circle. The freshman allowed just one run on two hits in six innings of work. Floetker struck out nine Retriever batters and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning.
In game two, Binghamton got on the board in the top of the first frame with a sacrifice fly by Deannie Plemon to score Jessica Bump, who led off the game with a double to left.
Sophomore pitcher Kate Price got the Bearcats out of a bases-loaded jam with only one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Price picked up back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame after taking over for Rhoda Marsteller, who pitched five and one-third innings of scoreless ball to that point.
In the bottom of the seventh, however, Albany finally got on the board. The Great Danes scored a run with a one-out single through the left side by first-team All-America East standout Andrianna Walraven, plating pinch runner Alison Haan to knot the game, 1-1, and send it to extra innings.
Albany pitcher Brittany MacFawn settled in after the first inning, holding the Bearcats scoreless over the game's final eight innings.
The score remained 1-1 into the bottom of the ninth. That is when Katie Wambold singled through the middle of the Binghamton infield to drive in Kristine Bell from third for the winning run, 2-1.
Thursday's action sets up a tilt between regular-season co-champions Boston U. and Albany at 11 a.m. Friday morning. UMBC will play Binghamton in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. The loser of Friday's opener will then play the winner of the second game at 4 p.m. in another elimination game.