KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The 12th-ranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute softball team rapped out 11 hits and took advantage of four errors to post an 8-0 shutout over Simmons College this afternoon at the Citrus Games at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. The contest was halted after six innings due to the eight-run mercy rule. The Sharks fall to 0-1 on the season, while the Engineers, who are ranked nationally in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll, improve to a perfect 2-0 after defeating Thiel College, 5-2, earlier in the day.
First year center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) made her collegiate debut a good one, recording a pair of singles in three trips to the plate for Simmons' only hits of the game. Junior Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing seven runs (five earned) on 11 hits and two walks in four innings of action.
WPI scored three runs in the second inning and four in the fifth to fuel its rout. Junior second baseman Nina Murphy-Cook (Roseville, Calif.) was the consummate leadoff hitter for the Engineers, going 3-4 with two runs scored and a pair of stolen bases to set the tone for the Engineers. Senior third baseman Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, R.I.) collected a pair of hits and scored a run, while junior center fielder Ama Biney (Worcester, Mass.) was 1-3 with a walk, a run scored and two runs batted in.
Junior starting pitcher Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, Mass.) picked up the victory to improve to 1-0 for WPI, hurling four and a third innings of shutout ball, yielding just two hits and a free pass, while striking out six. First year reliever Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, Mass.) set down all five batters she faced, including a strikeout to close out the game.
Junior right field Natalie Fabrizio (Hampstead, N.H.) got the scoring started in the second frame for Engineers with a leadoff single and later came around to score on a single to center off the bat of junior first baseman Julia Veitch (Carlisle, Mass.). Veitch later scored on an error and Murphy-Cook singled, stole second and also came home on an error to give WPI a 3-0 lead.
The Engineers increased their lead to 7-0 following a four-run fifth. Sophomore left fielder Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, N.H.) began the inning with a single, followed by an infield single from Murphy-Cook and a bases on balls worked by first year Cassie Graca (Somerset, Mass.) to load the bases. Biney grounded out to second, but both LeClaire and a speedy Murphy-Cook scored on the play to give WPI a 5-0 margin. Graca later scored on an RBI-ground out from senior catcher Lindsay Gurska (Revere, Mass.) and a pinch-hit run-scoring single from senior Hope Shevchuk (Burlington, Conn.) later in the frame put the Engineers up by seven runs.
In fitting fashion, WPI's final run of the game came on a ground out RBI from Gurska to plate Biney, who had drawn a leadoff walk.
The Engineers looked to open the scoring early when they loaded the bases in the first inning, but the Sharks were able to procure a 1-2-3 double-play and Nelson induced a pop up to second to escape the threat.
Simmons returns to play Thiel College at 3:30 p.m. in its second game of the afternoon, while WPI will play tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. when they take on Saint Joseph's College (Maine).