BOSTON, Mass. – Sophomore left fielder Ivy Vann (Bend, Ore.) hit a home run and drove in three runs, while the pitching staff allowed just one run to fuel the Simmons University softball team in an 8-1 victory over Suffolk University this evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament at Daly Field in Brighton, Mass. The Sharks improve to 20-22, while the Rams conclude their season at 21-18. Simmons advances to play the GNAC North Division number three seed Saint Joseph's College (Maine) tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at Daly Field. The Monks advanced with a 3-2 win over South Division number three seed Johnson & Wales University.
The victory marked Simmons' first victory over Suffolk since April 12, 2015 when the Sharks defeated the Rams, 2-1, in the second game of the double-header. Additionally, it was also Simmons first post-season win over the Rams since April 26, 2014 when the Sharks came away with a 6-1 victory in the GNAC semifinals.
Vann finished the day going 2-5 with three runs scored for Simmons, while first year catcher Shannon McMahon (El Cajon, Calif.) doubled and singled to drive in a pair of runs. First year Maddie Castigliego (Bristol, R.I.) knocked in a run with a triple and also added a single, while senior first base Dom Ortiz (Lawrence, Mass.) was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Sophomore center fielder Grace Boehler (East Freetown, Mass.), senior shortstop Jaclyn Flint (Medfield, Mass.) and senior third base McKenzie McGrath (Exeter, N.H.) each rapped out two hits for Suffolk, while junior catcher Ashley Zulla (Columbus, N.J.) knocked in the lone run with a double.
Simmons scored multiple runs in three different innings for all the offense it would need.
The top seed in the GNAC South Division wasted no time, pushing across three runs in the top of the first inning. Vann reached on a fielder's choice, before making her way to third during the frame, where she scampered home with the game's first run on a wild pitch. Following a walk to sophomore second base Marissa Santoro (Franklin, Mass.) to put a pair of runners on for the Sharks, McMahon roped a two-run double past the out-stretched glove of the Suffolk center fielder to give Simmons a 3-0 advantage.
The Sharks kept the offense firing, getting clutch two-out hitting from the middle of the line-up to plate another three runs. Junior center fielder Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.) reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch, before Vann dumped a single into short center field to plate Del Vacchio with the fourth run. Castigliego followed with an RBI opposite field triple down the right field line to bring in Vann and knock the Rams starting pitcher out of the game.
Ortiz greeted the new Suffolk pitcher with a sharp line drive into right center to score Castigliego and give the Sharks a comfortable 6-0 advantage.
The Rams got on the board with their lone run in the bottom of the third inning. Boehler opened the frame with a single to center, then advanced 60 feet on a wild pitch. First-year left-fielder Brianna Loughlin (Old Bridge, N.J.) put Boehler on third base with a sacrifice bunt, before Zulla (Columbus, N.J.) brought her home with a double to left center.
A single into center off the bat of Flint chased the Simmons starting hurler from the game. Castigliego came on in relief and received a foul pop-up to third to end the frame with two runners on base.
Vann capped the seven-run win with her second home run of the season for the Sharks, a two-run blast over the left field fence in the top of the fourth for an 8-1 lead.
Castigliego earned the victory to improve to 12-6 after tossing four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief in addition to striking out four without a walk. Reyes (8-4) took the loss for Suffolk, giving up six runs on five hits and two walks in an inning and two-thirds of work.