Soqui Leads Softball to Sweep at Mount Ida, 2-1, 5-2; Sharks Clinch Playoff Spot

Soqui Leads Softball to Sweep at Mount Ida, 2-1, 5-2; Sharks Clinch Playoff Spot

NEWTON, Mass. - First year Alex Soqui (Achushnet, Mass.) threw a complete game victory and collected a pair of hits to lead the Simmons College softball team to a double-header sweep over host Mount Ida College, winning the first game in eight innings, 2-1, before taking the night cap, 5-2, in Great Northeast Athletic Conference action this afternoon in Newton, Mass. The Sharks improve to 13-22 overall and 8-12 in league play, while the Mustangs fall to 13-22 and 7-15 to conclude their season. The sweep clinches a playoff spot for Simmons, which will learn its seeding following tomorrow's games.

Soqui hurled eight complete innings and yielded an unearned run on seven hits and a walk, while striking out five in the opening game to improve to 3-5 on the year. She was also 2-6 with a run batted in at the plate for the Sharks. First year center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) was 2-5 with a double and two RBI on the day for Simmons, while classmate Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.) also collected two hits on the day.

Senior first baseman Kaitlyn Muhlenforth (Bohemia, N.Y.) led Mount Ida with three hits in six at-bats and a run scored for the day, while senior center fielder Michele MacDonald (North Dighton, Mass.), junior shortstop Hayley Microulis (Pawtucket, R.I.) and senior catcher Emma Morton (Winchester, Mass.) each rapped out a pair of hits. Morton also knocked in a run.

Neither team was able to score in regulation in the opening game, before Simmons rallied for two runs in the eighth inning to come away with the victory. The Sharks were able to muster just two hits through the first seven innings, while Mount Ida put multiple runners on base three times through the first seven frames, but Soqui was able to get out of each jam, unscathed. 

First year Ashley Ignatowski (Guilford, Conn.) began the eighth inning on second base as a pinch-runner for Simmons, as per the international tie-breaker rule and moved to third on a sacrifce bunt by sophomore first baseman Alexandra Moleski (Bridgeport, Conn.) Senior catcher Alison Gauvin (Whitefield, Maine) reached on a fielder's choice and continued right on to second to put runners on second and third with one out. Senior third baseman Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) reached on an error by the shortstop as both runners scampered home to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

Senior Lucianna Medici (Riverside, R.I.) took second base to start the bottom of the frame for the Mustangs and scored when she stole third and scored on an errant throw by the catcher. Mount Ida received a two-out single from Muhlenforth, but was unable to score the tying run as Simmons came away with the win.

Senior starting pitcher Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) was the tough-luck loser for the Mustangs, allowing two unearned runs on two hits and a walk, while fanning four batters in eight complete innings.

The Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit to score a 5-2 win in the second game. Simmons scored three times in the top of the third to take the lead and never looked back. 

Sophomore left fielder Sam Curran (Concord, N.H.) drew a leadoff walk, before Gauvin was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base for the Sharks to open the third. First year shortstop Ashley Lynch (Shrewsbury, Mass.) singled down the right field line to drive in Curran with the visitors' first run of game two and put runners on first and third. Lynch stole second to put runners in scoring position for Hennessey, who hit a deep pop-up behind third base. The Mount Ida shortstop raced over to make the catch in foul ground, but Gauvin tagged up and raced home with the tying run to pull Simmons even. Soqui followed with a two-out RBI single to left field to plate Lynch and give the Sharks a 3-2 edge. 

Simmons tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth innings for insurance runs. Gauvin stroked a leadoff single to left and later scored her third run of the afternoon on a two-out single to center off the bat of Hennessey in the fifth. Sophomore right fielder Michaela Reeves (Reading, Mass.) worked a walk to put the leadoff batter on base for the fourth time in six innings for the Sharks. She later scored on a one-out single to left field from Curran to give Simmons a 5-2 cushion. The Mustangs were unable to put any type of rally together in the final two frames as the Sharks completed the sweep.

Mount Ida rallied for two runs with two outs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead. Microulis singled up the middle, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a single from Muhlenforth and scored on a passed ball that put Muhlenforth on second. Morton followed with a run-scoring single to right, but that would be the last run the home team scored for the rest of the day.

Sophomore hurler Tori Gomes (Taunton, Mass.) (4-11) picked up the win for Simmons, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk, while striking out a season-high six batters. She yielded just two hits over the final six innings of play. Handzel (11-11) suffered the loss for the Mustangs after giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks.

The Sharks finish their regular season with a 1:00 p.m. twinbill tomorrow in Nashua, N.H. vs. GNAC foe Rivier University.