Panthers finish runner-up after strong run in tournament
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston needed consecutive victories over top-seeded Plymouth State University Saturday in the Little East Conference softball tournament at D&M Park, and that's exactly what the Beacons did, defeating the Panthers 3-1 and 6-2 to capture its first LEC Championship.
Freshman Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) was named tournament Most Outstanding Player after earning a win and a save for the Beacons. She tossed three perfect innings off the bench in the opener to close out the victory, and scattered nine hits while allowing just one run to earn the win in the nightcap.
UMass Boston bounced back from a loss to Plymouth State on Thursday night in a game that ended after 11 p.m. The Beacons defeated second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University in an elimination game Friday morning, and took a 2-0 lead over Plymouth State on Friday afternoon before rain postponed the game in the second inning until Saturday afternoon. UMB won the completion of the resumed game Saturday, and the closed out the championship with a six-run outburst in the final.
The Beacons, 28-11, receive the LEC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Tournament. PSU completes its season at 23-17-1.
UMass Boston and Plymouth State shared the LEC regular season title, along with Eastern Connecticut and Western Connecticut State University, all four schools with 8-6 conference records. Both teams were making their first appearance in the LEC championship game.
NCAA Division III College Softball – Little East Conference Tournament
at D&M Park, Plymouth, N.H. – Saturday, May 6, 2017
#4 UMass Boston 3, #1 Plymouth State 1
#4 UMass Boston 6, #1 Plymouth State 2
Records: Plymouth State 23-17-1; UMass Boston 27-11
GAME 1 HIGHLIGHTS
* UMB took a big 2-0 lead in the first inning Friday morning before the rain came, as senior Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) delivered a two-run single to left field to drive in two runs. That was the score when the game was halted with one out in the second inning.
* PSU cut the margin in half Saturday afternoon when the game resumed, scoring a run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by junior Nina Murray (Saugus, Mass.), but UMB got that one back in the fifth on an RBI single by senior Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.)
* PSU struggled all afternoon to get a timely hit, leaving runners in scoring position in three of the first four innings and while scoring just one run. The Panthers managed just three hits in the game, one each by senior Rachel Morrissey (Salem, N.H.) and sophomores Mel Goss (Templeton, Mass.) and Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.).
* Sophomore Annie Thomas (Lunenberg, Mass.) earned the win (5-2) for UMass, allowing three hits and one run in four innings, and Greenspan pitched the final three hitless, scoreless innings for her third save. Sophomore Kayla Mathieu (Fairfax, Vt.) had a solid relief effort for PSU, starting the day in the circle and giving up just one run on three hits in 4.1 innings.
GAME 2 HIGHLIGHTS
* For the second straight game, UMB took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Two infield singles and a hit batter loaded the bases, and one run came home on a fielder's choice and another on a ground out.
* The Beacons pulled away with three runs in the fourth inning. After loading the bases with one out, Kaitlin Morse (Arlington, Mass.) delivered an RBI single to score a run, sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) was hit by a pitch, and Raczkowski walked to make it 5-0 after four.
* PSU came to life in the fifth inning when senior Katie Kennard (Concord, N.H.) drilled a double to left field and senior Emma Rhodes (Rochester, N.H.) blasted an RBI triple. But Greenspan got the next two batter to pop up to end the threat.
* After UMB added an additional run in the last of the fifth, PSU had one final rally in the sixth. An error by UMB and a single by sophomore Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) put runners at the corners with two outs, and Kennard singled to right to bring home a run, but the next batter popped out to end the inning.
* The Panthers left 10 runners on base and managed just two runs on nine hits. They had runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings but didn't score until the fifth.
* Kennard went 3-for-3 with a walk, and Morrill was 2-for-3.
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