WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Senior starting pitcher Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) and first year hurler Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) tossed back-to-back complete game victories to lead the Simmons College softball team to a sweep over University of Saint Joseph (Conn.), winning the first game, 4-3, and the night cap, 6-1, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference twinbill tonight at West Haven High School in West Haven, Conn. The Sharks improve to 9-8 overall and 6-2 in league play, while the Blue Jays fall to 9-9 and 5-3.
Simmons erased a three-run deficit in the bottom of the third with one swing of the bat. Nelson led off with a single, followed by a single from senior left fielder Jen Field (Windham, ME). Saint Joseph was able to get two outs, but sophomore third baseman Kat Guillotte (New Bedford, Mass.) drew a full count walk to load the bases. Backhaus helped her cause with a base-clearing double to right field to tie the score at 3-3. The Sharks took their first lead of the contest in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore right fielder Katie Nosky (Dedham, Mass.) smacked a leadoff double to left, first year Kayla Padroff (Southington, Conn.) pinch ran and later scored the eventual winning run on a Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) two-out double to right field to give Simmons a 4-3 edge.
The Blue Jays scored the first three runs of the game with single runs in each of the first three frames. Junior left fielder Haley McCall (Lebanon, Conn.) led off the game with a single to right center, moved to second on a sacrifice and later scored on a two-out single to right off the bat of sophomore designated player Ashley Tucker (Middletown, Conn.) to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. First year right fielder Shelby Tallman (Colchester, Conn.) struck a double to left to lead off the second, moved to third on a ground out and scored Saint Joseph's second run on a ground out to second off the bat of first year third baseman Sarah Ercoli (Plainville, Conn.). The Blue Jays tacked on their third run when Tucker skied a deep fly ball that landed over the right center fence for her third homer of the year.
Backhaus (6-2) earned the victory for the Sharks, allowing three runs on six hits, while striking out four batters. Junior starting hurler Patti Sciglimpaglia (Norwalk, Conn.) (6-3) suffered the loss for Saint Joseph, giving up four runs on six hits and four walks to go with four strikeouts.
Backhaus led the Simmons offense with three runs batted in, while Cunningham finished with a double and an RBI. Tucker paced the Blue Jays with a pair of hits, two runs batted in and a run scored.
The Blue Jays got on the board first in game two as well, scoring their lone run when Tallman reached on an error to lead off the second inning, moved to second on a single up the middle by senior catcher Colleen Ecsedy (Ashford, Conn.), before both runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Saint Joseph took advantage of the miscue when junior starting pitcher Danielle Circosta (Feeding Hills, Mass.) reached on a bunt single to bring home Tallman with the first tally of the game.
The Sharks took advantage of a pair of two-out errors to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Guillotte and Nosky worked walks, sandwiched around the inning's second out, before junior center fielder Heather White (Westfield, Mass.) reached on an error to lead the bases. Nelson also reached on an error on a throw that tipped off the first baseman's glove and rolled away as Guillotte and Nosky both came around to score to give Simmons a 2-1 edge. The Sharks added four insurance runs in the sixth to give them a comfortable 6-1 cushion. Nosky and White cracked back-to-back doubles with sophomore pinch runner Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) scoring Simmons' third run. Nelson reached on an error as White came around to score. Two outs later, Cunningham drew a walk and stole second to put herself and Nelson in scoring position for second baseman Mikaela Caracciolo (North Attleboro, Mass.). The junior delivered with a sharp single to center field to plate both runners and give the Sharks a 6-1 advantage.
Nelson earned the complete game victory to improve to 3-2 for the Sharks after allowing one unearned run on four hits and no walks in addition to four strikeouts. Circosta (2-2) was saddled with the loss for the Blue Jays, yielding two unearned runs on three hits and two walks, while setting three batters down on strikes.
Caracciolo and Guillotte each collected two hits for Simmons with Caracciolo knocking in two and Guillotte scoring a run and registering a double. Ecsedy finished with a pair of hits to lead Saint Joseph.
The Sharks return to action on Tuesday, April 7 when they travel to Standish, Maine to play GNAC rival Saint Joseph's College (Maine) in a twinbill at 4:30 p.m., while the Blue Jays head to Newton, Mass. on April 8 for a 3:00 p.m. doubleheader.