DORCHESTER, Mass. – The Simmons College softball team defeated Johnson & Wales University, 5-3, in the first game of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference twinbill, before the Wildcats hung on to win the wild nightcap in nine innings, 18-16, this afternoon at the University of Massachusetts Boston softball field in Dorchester, Mass. The Sharks are now 17-12 overall and 14-6 in league play, while Johnson & Wales is 15-13 and 14-8.
Simmons scored the first run of the day in the bottom of the first when senior shortstopHannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) cracked a leadoff double and scored on a single up the middle from junior second baseman Mikaela Caracciolo (North Attleboro, Mass.) to give the home team a 1-0 lead in game one. The Wildcats matched the run it the top of the second when sophomore first baseman Emily Gorecki (Bremerton, Wash.) hit a leadoff single to right and later scored on a two-out double to left from first year starting pitcher Jennifer Corona (Middle Island, N.Y.) to knot the score. The Sharks answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame on a two-run single up the middle by senior starting pitcher Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.)to plate classmate Jen Field (Windham, Maine), who had singled, and Cunningham, who had walked, to give them a 3-1 margin.
Simmons added another run in the fourth with the benefit of an error, before Johnson & Wales pulled to within a run with a pair of scores in the fifth. First year left fielder Alex Fantasia (Framingham, Mass.) and junior shortstop Cynthia Proby (Bremerton, Wash.) struck back-to-back singles to open the frame, before junior catcher Kristen Solari (Old Bridge, N.J.) drove them both in with a single to center. The Sharks added an insurance run in the sixth to give them a 5-3 lead when Caracciolo roped a leadoff single to center and scored on a triple to right field off the bat of senior first basemanJess Uschmann (Feeding Hills, Mass.).
Backhaus (10-5) earned the victory, allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out five in seven innings for Simmons. Corona (12-7) suffered the loss for the Wildcats, giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits and four walks to go with eight strikeouts.
Game two saw the Sharks erase deficits of eight and seven runs, respectively, before Johnson & Wales scored three times in the bottom of the ninth for the deciding margin.
The Wildcats scratched out a run in the top of the first when Proby roped a double down the left field line and later scored on a pair of ground outs. The visitors seemingly broke the game open with a seven-run third to take an 8-0 cushion, fueled by a three-run home run from sophomore designated player Emily Schaper (Pompton Lakes, N.J.), a two-run single off the bat of Gorecki and an RBI single from Solari. Simmons answered the bell in the bottom of the frame, scoring five times to cut the deficit to 8-5. Sophomore right fielder Katie Nosky (Dedham, Mass.) keyed the rally with a bases clearing double to right center to plate three runs, while Uschmann singled home a run and senior relief pitcher Amanda Cordeiro (Fall River, Mass.)brought home a run with a double.
The Sharks tied the score at 8-8 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Caracciolo forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk and sophomore third baseman Kat Guillotte (New Bedford, Mass.) followed with a two-run single to right center to knot the contest. The teams remained tied after seven innings of play, before Johnson & Wales looked for the knockout punch with seven runs in the eighth. The Wildcats loaded the bases and got run-scoring singles from sophomore pinch-hitter Natalie Kehlbeck (Weymouth, Mass.), Solari, Gorecki and sophomore center fielder Diana Amendolara (Newtown, Pa.), before Corona drove in two more runs with a single to give Johnson & Wales a 15-8 lead.
Simmons came back again with seven runs of its own to send the game to the ninth inning. Junior center fielder Heather White (Westfield, Mass.) and sophomore designated player Emma D'Arpino (Johnston, R.I.) each singled home a run, before Cordeiro cranked an RBI double to left center field. Field followed with a run-scoring single to pull the Sharks to within 15-13 and put runners on the corners. Caracciolo later crushed a 3-1 pitch to dead center field that looked like it might get over the fence to end the contest, but it caromed off the fence to score both runners and leave her with a game-tying double.
The Wildcats took advantage of a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt as junior right fielder Carly Cabral scored the go-ahead run in the ninth. Proby followed with a run-scoring double to left and later scored on a ground out to give JWU an 18-15 lead. Simmons looked to rally one last time when senior Alaina DeNoncour (Johnston, R.I.) stroked a run-scoring double to center field and moved to third on a single to right center from White with no outs. Fantasia, who came on to pitch the ninth for Johnson & Wales, was able to set the final three batters down in order to nail down the victory for the visitors.
Corona picked up the victory in five and two-thirds innings of relief for the Wildcats, allowing 10 runs (six earned) on 10 hits and three walks, while Fantasia picked up her first save of the year, giving up one unearned run on two hits. Backhaus was charged with the loss in relief for the Sharks, yielding three runs (one earned) on two hits in one inning.
Caracciolo led the Simmons offense on the day, going 4-8 with four RBI, two walks, three runs scored and a double, while Field was 4-7 with three runs scored and a run batted in and Uschmann was 3-6 with a triple and two RBIs. Cordeiro was 2-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in and Nosky finished with four RBIs.
Solari paced Johnson & Wales, going 4-10 with six runs batted in, while Proby was 4-7 with five runs scored, a double and an RBI. Gorecki finished at 4-9 with three RBIs and two runs scored and Corona was 3-4 with a double and three runs batted in.
The Sharks will wrap up the regular season with a noon doubleheader tomorrow vs. GNAC foe Albertus Magnus College at the BU Softball Field in Boston, Mass., while the Wildcats await their seeding in the GNAC tournament.