BOSTON, Mass. - The Simmons College softball team dropped a pair of games to visiting Johnson & Wales University, falling in the opener, 3-1, before being overcome in the second contest, 6-1, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader this afternoon at Daly Field in Brighton, Mass. The Sharks fall to 9-16 overall and 4-8 in the GNAC after becoming the first team to hold JWU under four runs in any conference game this season, while The Wildcats have won 10 of their last 11 games and improve to 20-6 on the year, including a perfect 12-0 in league play.
First year Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) was 3-6 with a run scored to lead Simmons at the plate, while sophomore Michaela Reeves (Reading, Mass.) and senior Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) each had a pair of hits for the home team.
Four players had three hits each for Johnson & Wales, including junior right fielder Alex Fantasia (Framingham, Mass.). Fantasia drew a walk to go with a double, a triple, a run scored and a run batted in. Junior Katie Rufo (Natick, Mass.), sophomore Meghan Gavin (Wallingford, Conn.) and sophomore Ally Mishol (Longmeadow, Mass.) all collected three hits on the day for the visitors.
The Wildcats received a big hit and took advantage of three errors to score a pair of runs and break a 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh of the opening game. Fantasia led off the inning by lacing a shot down the left field line that went all the way to the corner, while she raced around the bases, ending up on third with a leadoff triple. The Sharks looked to strand the runner with no outs, but an error by the pitcher resulted in Fantasia giving Johnson & Wales its first lead of the day. A throwing error by the home team's right fielder, following a put out, set sophomore shortstop Brenna DuPerry (Cranton, R.I.) up to score a vital insurance run. DuPerry scored on the next at-bat, scampering home on a ground out by Frost to give JWU a 3-1 lead.
Sophomore left fielder Sam Curran (Concord, N.H.) was primed to start a rally for Simmons, reaching with a sharp single up the middle, but the Sharks just couldn't push a run across.
Simmons broke into the scoring column of game one first with a run in the bottom of the third. The Sharks put together back-to-back doubles for a 1-0 edge. Senior third basemanBrianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) doubled down the left field line with one out and first year second baseman Lauren Del Vacchio (Mureeta followed with a ball that carried to the base of the fence for another double and a run for the home team. In the meantime, Simmons pitching was holding the Wildcats powerful defense in check. Johnson & Wales finally broke through in the fifth when first year center fielder Kristin Frost (Pearl City, Hawaii) worked a one out walk, stole second and came around to score on a double to right-center field off the bat of senior Emily Gorecki (Bremerton, Wash.) to knot the score at 1-1.
Junior starting pitcher Jennifer Corona (Middle Island, N.Y.) earned the victory to improve to 11-2 for JWU after hurling seven complete innings and allowing five hits and two walks to go with seven strikeouts. Soqui (1-2) suffered the loss for Simmons after yielding three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a pair of walks to go with two strikeouts.
Game two saw Johnson & Wales manufacture a run to crack the scoring column in the third inning. Sophomore third baseman Meghan Gavin (Wallingford, Conn.) smacked a one-out single, stole second and scored ahead of a Frost single to give the Wildcats a 1-0 edge. JWU tacked on another run in the following frame when Rufo singled to center, sophomore pinch-runner Taylor Fay (East Islip, N.Y) stole second and later scored on a bunt hit from sophomore Ally Mishol (Longmeadow, Mass.) for a 2-0 margin.
The Sharks cut the lead in half in the bottom of the frame after linking three hits together, beginning with a one-out single up the middle from Soqui, followed by a single up the middle from Reeves and capped by a run-scoring single down the right field line from first year center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) to pull Simmons to within 2-1.
The Wildcats offense continued to score runs with two more in the fifth for a 4-2 margin. Gavin led off the inning with a double to left and walked home on a triple off the bat of Frost, who later scored on a sacrifice fly to right field from Rufo. While the JWU offense was clicking, its pitching held the Sharks to just two hits over the final three innings. The Wildcats added single runs in the sixth and seventh frames to increase their lead to 6-1. Mishol led off the sixth with a single and came around to score on a double from Fantasia and first year pinch-hitter Tiffani Semanchik slapped a one-out single through the middle in the seventh and later scored on an error.
Senior hurler Emily Gundrum (Bethlehem, Pa.) improved to 6-0 after yielding just one run on four hits and a walk to go with three strikeouts in four innings. Junior right-hander Noelle Weiss (Hartland, Wis.) pitched three two-hit innings and fanned four to earn the three-inning save for Johnson & Wales. Sophomore starting pitcher Tori Gomes (Taunton, Mass.) (2-8) gave up five runs on 10 hits and two walks in the loss for Simmons and struck out two.
The Sharks return to the diamond on Wednesday, April 19 when they travel to Standish, Maine to take on Saint Joseph's College for a 4:00 p.m. twinbill, while the Wildcats head to Newton, Mass. to play Mount Ida College on April 18 at 3:00 p.m.