Cunningham Falls Short of Cycle in Softball Split at Mount Ida, 14-2, 4-7

NEWTON, Mass. ? Five Simmons College softball players knocked in multiple runs in an opening game 14-2 victory over host Mount Ida College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader at Alumni Field in Newton, Mass. The Mustangs took the night cap, 7-4.

NEWTON, Mass. – Five Simmons College softball players knocked in multiple runs in an opening game 14-2 victory over host Mount Ida College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader at Alumni Field in Newton, Mass. The Mustangs took the night cap, 7-4. The Sharks are now 7-8 overall, including 4-2 in league play, while Mount Ida stands at 1-14 and 1-5. 

The Simmons offense scored in all five innings of the opening game, before it was called due to the eight-run mercy rule. The visitors came alive right away with six two-out runs in the top of the first inning of game one, fueled by a three-run home run from senior third baseman Alaina DeNoncour (Johnston, R.I.) and a two-run single off the bat of sophomore first baseman Kat Guillotte (New Bedford, Mass.). Sophomore right fielder Katie Nosky (Dedham, Mass.) also plated a run with a single to right field. 

The Sharks tacked on a single run in the second when senior shortstop Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) legged out a triple to center field and later scored on a two-out single through the left side by senior designated player Jess Uschmann (Feeding Hills, Mass.) to give them a 7-0 advantage. The visitors increased their lead to 9-0 with two runs in the third when Nosky reached on an error and sophomore pinch hitter Emma D'Arpino (Johnston, R.I.) later drew a walk to set up a two-run double down the left field line from Cunningham to plate both runners and give Simmons nine runs – all scored with two outs. 

First year pinch hitter Cat Record (Cotuit, Mass.) led off the fourth with a double to center for her first collegiate hit and Backhaus re-entered to run at second, where she came around to score on a single to right center from Uschmann to give the Sharks a 10-0 cushion. Mount Ida got two runs back in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore Emma Morton (Winchester, Mass.) worked a full-count walk and moved into scoring position following a double to left from first year third baseman Hayley Microulis (Pawtucket, R.I.). Sophomore starting pitcher Kaitlyn Muhlenforth (Bohemia, N.Y.) knocked in both runners with a single through the left side to help her own cause and cut the deficit to 10-2. It was the last time the Mustangs would score in the contest. Simmons put the game away with four additional runs in the top of the fifth, keyed by a two-run homer from Backhaus and a run-scoring single from sophomore Janyne Sierra (Everett, Mass.)

Backhaus (5-2) earned the victory, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four for the Sharks, while Muhlenforth (0-9) gave up 14 runs (12 earned) on 13 hits and five walks to go with 11 strikeouts for Mount Ida. 

Cunningham finished a homer short of hitting for the cycle for Simmons to go with two RBI and three runs scored, while Uschmann, Guillotte and Backhaus all collected a pair of hits and drove in two runs apiece. DeNoncour's homer gave her a season-high three runs batted in for the game. Muhlenforth and sophomore Sam Laferriere (Tewksbury, Mass.) paced the Mustangs' offense with Muhlenforth driving in both runs and Laferriere collecting a pair of hits. 

Sophomore starting pitcher Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) held the Sharks hitless through the first four innings of game two in her first start of the season, while Mount Ida put seven runs on the board. The Mustangs' bottom of the order strung together four straight singles in the bottom of the second from Muhlenforth, sophomore right fielder Shannon McArthur (Coventry, R.I.), first year left fielder Alexis Boswell (Amesbury, Mass.) to load the bases, before first year shortstop Lexi Minicucci (Westfield, Mass.) brought home the first run on an infield single to third. Sophomore center fielder Michelle MacDonald (North Dighton, Mass.) followed with a bases loaded walk to push the home team's lead to 2-0. 

Mount Ida struck its biggest blow of the day with a five-run fourth when McArthur led off with a single and, after an out, was followed by five consecutive singles. Minicucci and MacDonald singled to load the bases, before sophomore Lucianna Medici (Riverside, R.I.) and Laferriere followed with run scoring singles to give the Mustangs a 4-0 margin. Morton knocked in two more runs with a single and later scored on a wild pitch to give Mount Ida a formidable 7-0 advantage. 

Simmons rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth to stay alive. Senior left fielder Jen Field (Windham, Maine) pushed a slap single to shortstop to lead off the fifth and break up Handzel's no-hitter. Cunningham drew a walk, before Caracciolo came through with a run-scoring single to center to give the Sharks their first run. Junior center fielder Heather White (Westfield, Mass.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Backhaus worked a walk to force in another run. Guillotte plated Simmons' third run with a sacrifice fly to pull it to within 7-3. The Sharks looked to rally again in the seventh when White laced a single through the left side and later scored on a single up the middle from first year Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) to make it 7-4, but it was the last run of the afternoon as the Mustangs secured the victory with a ground out. 

Handzel (1-0) took the victory for Mount Ida, yielding three runs on two hits and four walks, while fanning seven in five innings, before Microulis nailed down the final two frames, allowing a run on three hits to go with four strikeouts. Senior hurler Amanda Cordeiro (Fall River, Mass.) (0-4) was charged with the loss for Simmons after giving up seven runs on nine hits and a pair of walks in addition to striking out a batter. Nelson closed out the contest, allowing two hits to go with two strikeouts in the final two and two-thirds innings. 

Morton drove in a pair of runs for the Mustangs, while McArthur rapped out three hits and scored twice. Minicucci finished with a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored. Caracciolo and Nelson each recorded a hit and a run batted in apiece to lead the Sharks. 

Simmons will be in action again tomorrow when it hosts University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) in a conference twinbill to be played at West Haven High School (Conn.) at 5:30 p.m., while Mount Ida travels to Providence, R.I. to take on Johnson & Wales University in doubleheader action on April 6 at 6:00 p.m.