CLERMONT, Fla. – The Simmons College softball team was defeated by Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 4-1, this morning at the 2015 Spring Games at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. The Sharks fall to 0-1 in their season opener, while the Engineers improve to a perfect 3-0.
First year Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, Mass.) hurled hitless ball for three and two-thirds innings for WPI, before Simmons senior pitcher Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) lined a clean single to left field with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, R.I.) batted in single runs in the first, third and seventh innings for the Engineers.
WPI manufactured a run to get on the board in the top of the first when first year shortstop Nina Murphy-Cook (Roseville, Calif.) beat out an infield single, stole second base, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scampered home on a Gallagher sacrifice fly to center field. The Engineers tacked on another run in the third when Ama Biney (Worcester, Mass.) drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on a single to right-center off the bat of Gallagher.
The Sharks cracked the scoring column in the fifth to cut the score in half at 2-1. Sophomore right fielder Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) worked a walk, stole second and later scored on a wild ball four offering to junior second baseman Mikaela Caracciolo (North Attleboro, Mass.) that went to the backstop to allow the run.
WPI scored a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh to take a 4-1 advantage. Murphy-Cook reached on an infield single slapped to short and stole second, before Biney put runners on the corners with a single to right field. Gallagher followed with a single through the right side to plate Murphy-Cook for the second time. Gallagher was thrown out trying to advance to second following the throw home, but Biney snuck in from third base with the fourth run of the morning for the Engineers.
The Sharks threatened in the bottom of the frame with two outs. Senior shortstop Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) got things started with a single to left field and Caracciolo followed by pushing a single into short centerfield to put a pair of runners on, before junior center fielder Heather White (Westfield, Mass.) grounded out to third to end the contest.
Saucier allowed one unearned run on just three hits and four bases on balls in six and two-thirds innings of work to improve to 2-0 on the year for WPI, while sophomore pitcher Caroline Medino (Pompton Lakes, N.J.) induced the ground ball for the final out to record her first save of the season.
Backhaus (0-1) was saddled with the loss for Simmons, yielding two runs on five hits and two walks, while fanning four in four innings, before sophomore Danielle LeBlanc (Templeton, Mass.) threw the final three frames, allowing two runs on six hits.
Murphy-Cook, Gallagher and senior first baseman Katie Bumila (Raynham, Mass.) all collected two hits on the day for the Engineers in addition to a pair of stolen bases for Murphy-Cook. Backhaus, Cunningham and Caracciolo all registered a base hit each for the Sharks.
Simmons returns to action tonight when it takes on Monmouth College (Ill.) at 5:00 p.m. at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. WPI takes on Rhode Island College.