Ortiz, Nelson Lead Softball over St. Joseph's (ME), 4-1, to Advance in GNAC Semifinals

Ortiz, Nelson Lead Softball over St. Joseph's (ME), 4-1, to Advance in GNAC Semifinals

EAST BOSTON, Mass. – Sophomore Dom Ortiz (Lawrence, Mass.) knocked in a pair of runs and senior starting pitcher Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) allowed just one run on five hits to lead the number three seed Simmons College softball team over fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's College (Maine), 4-1, today in an elimination game in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals at Memorial Park in East Boston, Mass. The Sharks improve to 22-18 on the season, while the Monks fall to 20-19. Simmons advances to play the winner of fifth-seeded Albertus Magnus College and number seven seed Emmanuel College today at 5:30 p.m. at Memorial Park, while Saint Joseph's season comes to an end. The win was the first in the GNAC Semifinals for the Sharks since 2014.

Ortiz was 1-3 with two RBI to finish the day for Simmons, while sophomore designated player Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) and first year first base Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) each knocked in a run and were both 1-3 as well. Nelson improves to 14-8 on the season and allowed just one walk, while striking out three. 

Junior first base Melodie Bailey (Lebanon, Maine) was 2-4 with a double and a run scored to lead the Monks, while sophomore second base Madisyn Charest (Sidney, Maine) also picked up a pair of hits in two at-bats. Junior starting hurler Kristal Smith (Pittston, Maine) (9-10) suffered the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk in addition to five strikeouts. 

The Sharks' first three batters reached base in the top of the sixth to load the bases with sophomore second base Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.) roping a single to center field, first year left fielder Ivy Vann (Bend, Ore.) reaching on an error on a sacrifice bunt and sophomore center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) drawing a walk to put runners on every base without an out for Simmons. Ortiz came through with a two-run single up the middle to plate Del Vacchio and Vann with the Sharks' first two runs of the game for a 2-1 edge. Sophomore designated player Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) and first year first base Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) each followed with run-scoring ground outs to give Simmons a 4-1 lead. 

The Monks looked to rally in the bottom of the seventh when senior right fielder Casidee Couture (Jay, Maine) reached base on an error and junior right fielder Katie Chadbourne (Jaffrey, N.H.) worked a one-out walk to put runners on first and second base. Nelson settled down and retired the final two batters to secure the win for the Sharks and earn her first collegiate playoff victory. 

Saint Joseph's loaded the bases in the bottom of the first when Bailey laced a leadoff single through the left side, Charest reached on a bunt single between first base and the pitching circle and sophomore third base Kaylee Burns (Saco, Maine) was hit by a pitch with one out. Nelson limited the damage with sophomore designated player Maizie Lee (Saco, Maine) grounding out to second to plate Bailey with the Monk's only run of the inning. Nelson recorded the final 19 outs without surrendering another run.