NORTHFIELD, Vt. - Senior Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) and junior Mikaela Caracciolo (North Attleboro, Mass.) each homered and doubled to lead the Simmons College softball team in a split at host Norwich University this afternoon in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference doubleheader at NU Softball Field in Northfield, Vt. The Sharks are now 14-11 overall and 11-5 in league play, while the Cadets are 8-18 and 6-12.
Caracciolo hit her team-leading fourth home run of the season to give Simmons a 1-0 edge in the top of the first inning of the opening game. Senior starting pitcher Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) held Norwich without a hit for the first three innings, while striking out six, before the Cadets' bats came alive in the fourth with two runs. Norwich took advantage of a pair of errors in the frame, putting two runners on base before junior catcher Angie Hershberger (Felton, Calif.) knocked in the tying run with a single. Senior starting pitcher Corrine Baita (Rochester, N.H.) helped her cause with an RBI double to give the home team a 2-1 edge.
Norwich tacked on another run in the sixth when Baita rapped a two-out run-scoring single to center to give the Cadets a 3-1 lead. Cunningham got the run back in the top of the seventh with her first roundtripper of the year, but the Sharks fell short for the game, 3-2.
Caracciolo finished with a pair of hits and a run batted in to pace Simmons, while Baita led Norwich with two hits and two RBI. She also picked up the victory to improve to 5-7 after allowing two runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out four in seven complete innings. Backhaus (8-4) was saddled with the loss after giving up three runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks to go with six strikeouts in six innings.
The Sharks took the nightcap after scoring six times in the second and four times in the fourth to give them all the runs they would need. Cunningham fueled the six-run second with a bases clearing double to score three runs and scored herself on a double down the line by Caracciolo to give the visitors a 5-0 cushion. Caracciolo later scored the sixth run on a wild pitch.
Simmons loaded the bases with one out in the fourth when Caracciolo, sophomore third baseman Kat Guillotte (New Bedford, Mass.) and Backhaus were all issued walks. Senior first baseman Jess Uschmann (Feeding Hills, Mass.) followed with a run-producing single to make it 7-0. The Sharks added two more runs on an error and a fielder's choice, before sophomore right fielder Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) knocked in the 10th run of the game with a single.
The Cadets got on the board with a pair of runs in the fifth, but it wasn't enough to prevent the game from being called due to the eight-run mercy rule. Baita led off the inning with a single and circled the bases ahead of first year first baseman Kassy Kazimierczak's (Adams, Mass.) third homer of the season to cut the deficit to 10-2.
First year starting pitcher Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) (6-3) earned the victory for Simmons, yielding just two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out a batter in seven complete innings. Junior hurler Taylor Morris (Haverhill, N.H.) suffered the loss for Norwich, giving up 10 runs (seven earned) on five hits and eight walks, while fanning two batters in three and a third innings of work.
Uschmann finished with a pair of hits and knocked in a run, while Cunningham drove in three runs to pace the Sharks at the plate. Junior center fielder Payton Warner (Harwich, Mass.) was 3-3 from the top of the order and Kazimierczak plated both of the Cadets' runs.
Simmons returns to action on Friday, April 17 when it hosts GNAC foe Anna Maria College at 3:00 p.m. in a twinbill played at Boston University, while Norwich heads to Boston, Mass. for a 3:00 p.m. doubleheader with Suffolk University tomorrow.