CLERMONT, Fla. – Sophomore starting pitcher Maddie Castigliego (Bristol, R.I.) hurled a six-hit shutout and senior center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) collected three hits, including the game-winning single to give the Simmons University softball team a 1-0 victory over Bates College this afternoon at Legends Way Ballfields as part of THE Spring Games in Clermont, Fla. The Sharks win their fifth straight game to improve to 6-1 on the season for their best start since the 2008 season, while the Bobcats have their four-game win-streak snapped at four in a row. The shutout marked the first time since March 30, 2019 – a span of 28 games -- that Bates had been held without a run.
Castigliego hurls her second shutout in the last three days after allowing just six singles and a walk to go with a pair of strikeouts to improve to 3-0 on the season for Simmons. The right-hander has allowed just one unearned run on 11 hits and two walks in her last 23 innings pitched, while posting a 3-0 mark and registering a save. Hennessey finished the day going, 3-4 with a run batted in.
Junior catcher Christie Bott (Seaford, N.Y.) was 2-4 with a double, while junior infielder Marissa Santoro (Franklin, Mass.) was 2-2 with a run scored for the Sharks. Junior center fielder Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.) was 1-3 with a stolen base to help pace the Bobcats offense, while sophomore shortstop Kennedy Ishii (Honolulu, Hawaii) was 1-2.
Junior starting pitcher Payton Buxton (1-2) suffered the loss for Bates, allowing one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out four in four innings. Senior reliever Kirsten Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) gave up five hits and struck out five in the final three innings for the Bobcats.
Simmons took advantage of a hit batter and a walk in the top of the third inning to score the only run of the game. Santoro took a pitch off the leg to open the frame and was pushed to second after a base on balls was issued to senior right fielder Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.). Hennessey later stepped to the plate with two outs and dumped a 1-2 pitch into short left field for a run-scoring single and a 1-0 lead.
The Sharks outfield played a big part in the team's victory. Bass opened the game for Bates by reaching on an infield error, stole second base and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ishii. Sophomore second base Janell Sato (Honolulu, Hawaii) drove a pitch to right field that Del Vacchio caught and then fired home to cut down Bass at the plate and keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the first. Sophomore catcher Emily Samar (New York, N.Y.) and Bass struck back-to-back one-out singles in the bottom of the sixth, before Ishii singled to center field. Samar was waved around third base on the Ishii knock, but Hennessey's throw arrived ahead of her at home plate to keep the Bobcats off the board.
Bates looked to threaten in the bottom of the seventh as well with junior designated player Mary Collette (Watertown, Conn.) and sophomore right fielder Aleah Pagan (Orinda, Calif.) each ripping singles to begin the frame. Two outs later, Pelletier worked a full-count walk to load the bases with two outs. Samar flied out to left field to end the game, as one of five left field putouts on the day, including three diving catches by Simmons junior Ivy Vann (Bend, Ore.).
The Sharks return to action later today when they take on Carroll University at Legends Way Ballfields at 6:30 p.m., while the Bobcats play Carroll tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at Hancock Regional Complex in Clermont.