BOSTON, Mass. – First year pitcher Maddie Castigliego (Bristol, R.I.) allowed two earned runs on four hits and drove in six runs from the plate to lead the Simmons University softball team to a 7-3 game one victory and senior first base Dom Ortiz (Lawrence, Mass.) was 3-4 with a double and three RBI in a 7-3 win in the nightcap to power the Sharks to a sweep over visiting University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) this afternoon in Great Northeast Athletic Conference action at Daly Field in Brighton, Mass. Simmons has won eight in a row and 14 of its last 18 to improve to 18-20 overall, including 12-2 in league play, while the Blue Jays fall to 21-17 and 10-4.
The Sharks also clinched the number one seed in the GNAC South Division and will host the 2019 GNAC Softball Championship Tournament set to begin on Thursday, May 2 at Daly Field. Simmons will host the championship tourney for the first time in school history.
Simmons rapped out double-digits in hits for both games to extend its streak with at least 10 hits to eight straight contests and finished the day with 26 hits, including eight extra-base knocks. The Sharks pitching allowed just seven hits on the day.
Castigliego was 3-3 from the plate with a double, a triple and her team-leading fourth home run of the season and scored two runs for Simmons. She improved to 10-5 on the season with a pitching victory in the opener, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and six walks to go with seven strikeouts in seven full innings. Ortiz was 4-7 with a double, three RBI and a run scored, while senior center fielder Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.) was 4-6 with a pair of walks, a run batted in and two runs scored. Sophomore Christie Bott (Seaford, N.Y.) finished the day going 5-8 with a double, a run knocked in and three runs scored. First year shortstop Allie Mulhern (Westford, Mass.) was 3-6 with a pair of doubles and a run scored, while classmate Alex Morang (Windham, Maine) was 3-6 with an RBI and a run scored.
Senior center fielder Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) led the Saint Joseph offense, going 2-6 with a pair of runs scored. Junior McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.) doubled in a run, while first year Ashlee White (Bristol, Conn.) was 1-2 with a run batted in.
The Blue Jays scored first in both games and took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second in the opener. Skoly reached on an infield single to third with two outs and scored three walks later with sophomore Amanda Thiel (Torrington, Conn.), first year Samantha Iannone (Wallingford, Conn.) reaching on free passes, before junior Bianca Pappacoda (East Haven, Conn.) pushed home the first run of game one with a base on balls of her own.
The Sharks countered with two runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 2-1 edge and the lead for good. Sophomore second base Marissa Santoro (Franklin, Mass.) singled to center field, before Castigliego belted a triple to right field to bring home Santoro with the tying run. Morang followed with a single through the right side to plate Castigliego and give the home team a one-run lead. Simmons tacked on three more runs in the third to take a 5-1 advantage. Bott singled and Ortiz reached on a fielder's choice, before Castigliego's power gave the Sharks a four-run lead on her fourth home run of the year over the left center field fence.
Skoly drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and later scored on an error to cut the deficit to 5-2 for USJ. Simmons padded its cushion with a pair of runs in the fifth. Ortiz singled and Santoro found her way to first on a fielder's choice ahead of Castigliego's third extra-base hit in four innings – a double to left that scored sophomore pinch runner Emily Barbella (Littleton, Mass.) from second and Santoro from first for a 7-2 lead.
Saint Joseph scored its final run of game one when Iannone reached on a fielder's choice and White laced a pinch-hit single down the right field line to plate Iannone with the team's third and final run.
Sophomore starting pitcher Alessandra Milardo (Plantsville, Conn.) (3-7) suffered the loss for the Blue Jays, giving up five runs on eight hits to go with four strikeouts in three innings.
Saint Joseph took advantage of a pair of Sharks miscues in the top of the first or game two, getting on the board with a run. Junior Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) reached second on an outfield error to open the game, advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scampered home on a wild pitch with two outs.
Simmons answered with a pair of run in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-1 lead. Del Vacchio worked a leadoff walk and scored when Bott ripped a double down the left field line. Ortiz delivered the home team's second run after dumping a single into right field to score Bott. The Sharks scored three more times in the second to take a 5-1 margin. The bottom of the Simmons order nearly hit for the cycle to open the second with Morang sending a single to right center, Mulhern cracking a double to center and sophomore right fielder Danielle Carson (Ashland, Mass.) clearing the bases with a two-run triple to right center to give Simmons a 4-1 lead. Del Vacchio singled to center to bring home Carson with the third run of the frame and the fourth consecutive hit of the inning.
The Blue Jays got a run back in the third when Russo worked a two-out walk and Driscoll clouted a double to right to make it 5-2. The Sharks added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth when Del Vacchio and Bott both singled and Ortiz drove the pair home with a two-out double to left to increase the home team's lead to 7-2. Saint Joseph kept the theme going in scoring the first and last run of the contest as it did in the opening game when White drew a leadoff walk and Sharon roped a two-out single up the middle to plate junior pinch-runner Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) to set the final at 7-3 again.
Sophomore right-hander Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) (7-8) earned the victory for Simmons, yielding three runs (two earned) on just three hits and four walks to go with three strikeouts in seven complete innings, while first year hurler Natalie Amato (Cheshire, Conn.) (9-4) took the loss after allowing five runs on six hits and a walk in addition to a pair of strikeouts in one-plus innings of work. Sharon gave up two runs on eight hits and fanned two in five innings of relief for USJ.
The Sharks return to play tomorrow when they travel to Northfield, Vt. to take on GNAC foe Norwich University for a noon twinbill, while the Blue Jays host Saint Joseph's College (Maine) at the same time in the regular-season finale.