CLERMONT, Fla. – The Simmons University softball team walked off with an 8-7 victory in the bottom of the eighth inning over Bridgewater State University after a 3-1 win over Montclair State University today at Legends Way Ballfields as part of THE Spring Games in Clermont, Fla. The Sharks finish their abbreviated season with an 8-2 mark for the best start in school history, while Bridgewater State falls to 3-5 and Montclair State slips to 10-2.
Simmons senior center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) entered the day just three hits shy of 100 for her career and after collecting the game-winning RBI single against Montclair State, she singled off the pitcher in the bottom of the seventh against Bridgewater State to reach the century mark in her final collegiate at-bat and finish the day at 3-7 with a run batted in, a stolen base and a run scored.
The Sharks rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to knot Bridgewater State at 7-7 in their second game of the day. Sophomore shortstop Allie Mulhern (Westford, Mass.) was hit by a pitch to open the seventh and stole second base, before Hennessey drove the next pitch up the middle and off the pitcher for her milestone single to put runners on first and third with no outs. Junior Christie Bott (Seaford, N.Y.) sent an opposite field fly ball to right field that was caught in foul territory, before senior right fielder Courtney Gouveia (Taunton, Mass.) threw a strike to the plate, but Mulhern was able to avoid the tag and pull Simmons to within 7-6. Junior second base Marissa Santoro (Franklin, Mass.) came through with a single up the middle to score Hennessey and tie the game at 7-7. Santoro moved to second on a sacrifice fly and then looked to score on a single up the middle off the bat of sophomore catcher Shannon McMahon (El Cajon, Calif.), but sophomore center fielder Megan Sharon (East Longmeadow, Mass.) fired a laser to the plate to cut down Santoro and send the game into extra innings.
The Bears looked to score in the top of the eighth after senior first base Meghan Navarro (Taunton, Mass.) began the inning on second base, due to the international tie-breaker, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt with one out. Bridgewater State attempted to break the tie with a squeeze bunt, but the try was popped up to the pitcher and resulted in a double play.
The Sharks put junior pinch-runner Danielle Carson (Ashland, Mass.) on second base and pushed her to second on a sacrifice bunt, before sophomore third base Alex Morang (Windham, Maine) drove a deep fly ball to left field to score Carson with the game-winning run.
Simmons took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Bott. The Bears answered with a single run in the third to tie the score at 1-1. Senior second base Samantha Mulcahy (Taunton, Mass.) reached on a bunt single and later came around to score on a two-out single from Sharon that hit the first base bag and kicked off into foul ground.
Bridgewater State put five runs on the board in the fourth, keyed by five straight hits to open the frame. Graduate student shortstop Jenny Heller (Chicopee, Mass.) stroked a single to left, before junior catcher Madison Synan (Quincy, Mass.) beat out a bunt to put runners on first and second with no outs. First year third base Kerri McLaughlin ripped a single up the middle to plate Heller and give the Bears a 2-1 edge. Navarro also reached on a bunt single to put runners on the corners ahead of a two-run double from Mulcahy to give Bridgewater State a 4-1 margin. The Sharks looked to escape without any damage after getting the next two outs, but Sharon singled to left field to bring home Navarro and Mulcahy with the fifth and sixth runs of the game for the Bears.
Simmons answered the bell in the bottom of the frame, scoring four times to climb to within a run at 6-5. Santoro reached on a fielder's choice, before junior left fielder Ivy Vann (Bend, Ore.) stroked a single to right ahead of a McMahon walk to load the bases with two outs. Sophomore relief pitcher Maddie Castigliego (Bristol, R.I.) came through with a line drive single into right field that was mishandled, allowing all three runs to score as Castigliego ended up on third with the Sharks trailing, 6-4. Morang followed with a single up the middle to pull Simmons to within a run after three innings of play.
Bridgewater State added an insurance run in the sixth, despite a sparkling defensive play from the Sharks. Mulcahy opened the inning with a bunt single and took second on an overthrow, before sophomore left fielder Emma Healy (Plymouth, Mass.) also reached on a bunt single and stole second to put both runners in scoring position with no outs. Sophomore designated player Alexandra Taylor (Hebron, Conn.) hit a fly ball to right field as Mulcahy tagged to score on the play, but Del Vacchio's throw was in plenty of time to prevent the run and keep it a one-run game with two outs. Simmons looked to escape unscathed but Sharon cracked a clutch single up the middle to score Healy and give the Bears a 7-5 lead.
Hennessey and McMahon each finished the contest with a pair of hits for the Sharks, while Bott knocked in two runs without the benefit of a hit. Sharon led the Bridgewater State offense, going 3-4 with four runs batted in, while Mulcahy was 4-4 with a double, two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Castigliego picked up the victory with five innings of relief for Simmons, allowing three runs on seven hits and a strikeout to improve to a perfect 5-0, while sophomore starting pitcher Kelley Reichert (Milford, Mass.) (2-2) took the loss, giving up eight runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks and struck out two in seven and two-thirds innings.
The Sharks scored first in the day's first game against Montclair State as well, taking a 1-0 edge in the top of the first. Mulhern worked a one-out walk, moved to second on a deep fly out to center field off the bat of Hennessey and scored on a Bott single to left field for the first run of the contest. Junior shortstop Amber Powers (Newton, N.J.) opened the bottom of the inning with a single to center, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch, before scoring on a ground out to the pitcher from sophomore first base Kayla Gallo (Middletown, N.J.) to knot the score at 1-1.
Simmons pitching held the Red Hawks scoreless for the final six innings, while allowing just four hits for the remainder of the game. The Sharks bats broke the tie with a pair of runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead that Simmons would not relinquish. Carson drew a leadoff walk before Del Vacchio followed with a single through the left side. Both runners stole to advance a base and put a pair of runners in scoring position for Hennessey, who dumped a single down the left field line to plate Carson with the go-ahead run. Bott knocked in the Sharks third run with a fly out to right field for one of three sacrifice flies on the day.
Senior starting pitcher Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) allowed just one run on three hits in the first three innings, before giving way to Castigliego, who tossed two-hit ball to go with a pair of walks and two strikeouts over the final four frames to earn the victory. Senior starting pitcher Nicole Majewski (South Brunswick, N.J.) suffered the loss for Montclair State to fall to 1-1 after allowing three runs on three hits and two walks in two-plus innings of work. First year Jillian Sims (Woodbridge, N.J.) hurled the final five innings, surrendering just four hits to go with four strikeouts for the Red Hawks.
Bott finished the game, going 1-2 with two RBI, while Del Vacchio was 2-4 with a stolen base and a run scored. Hennessey went 1-3 with a run batted in. Powers paced Montclair State with a 2-3 showing, including a double and a run scored, while senior left fielder Blake Saperstein (Livingston, N.J.), junior catcher Alexa Penna (Hillsborough, N.J.) and sophomore center fielder Alexis Law (Berlin Township, N.J.) all collected a single.