Hannah Smith Reaches 200 Career Strikeouts as Colonials Take LEC Openers

Hannah Smith Reaches 200 Career Strikeouts as Colonials Take LEC Openers

DARTMOUTH, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth junior Hannah Smith (Attleboro, Mass.) collected her 200th career strikeout as part of 15 innings of work on Sunday, but Western Connecticut escaped with a pair of wins in Sunday's Little East Conference-opening series. 

The Basics
Scores: Western Conn. 4, UMass Dartmouth 3 (10 inn.) | Western Conn. 7, UMass Dartmouth 3
Records: Western Conn. (10-8, 2-0 LEC) | UMass Dartmouth (10-9, 0-2 LEC)

How it Happened
Western Connecticut 4, UMass Dartmouth 3 (10 inn.)
An evenly matched pitchers' duel between Smith and WCSU's Angelina Miller (Holbrook, N.Y.) extended to 10 innings, with the Colonials' two runs in the top of the frame enough to edge the challenge by the Corsairs. 

Smith and Miller both permitted 10 hits a side and two earned runs, with Smith collecting her milestone K in the second inning en route to five total strikeouts. Miller fanned nine to rise to 3-1 in the circle on the season.

Corsair freshman Cierra Sheerin (Bridgewater, Mass.) drove in a team-high two RBI, with Lexi Pereira (Middleboro, Mass.) and Emily Colton (Kingston, Mass.) both lacing two hits. 

The pitchers kept the scoreboard nil until both teams broke through for a run a side in the fifth. With runners on the corners in the top of the frame, WCSU freshman Charline Plasczynski (Bristol, Conn.) connected for one of her two hits to plate Tori Dugan (Norwalk, Conn.) from third.

In the home half, Smith helped her cause with a leadoff single, and freshman Nicole McSweeney (Bridgewater, Mass.) dropped a well-placed sacrifice bunt to push pinch-runner Heather Thompson (Springfield, Mass.) to third. Sophomore Maddie O'Gryzek (Norfolk, Mass.) then stepped into smack an RBI double to right center and draw the score even. 

Again, Plasczynski was there to drive the Colonials' second RBI in the top of the seventh, but with runners on second and third, Smith escaped the inning down just a run. The gap was again closed by McSweeney and O'Gryzek in the next at-bat, as the duo dropped back-to-back singles. Sheerin rose to the occasion with a hit deep enough to round McSweeney from second and force extra frames. 

Two more scoreless innings passed until WCSU found a rhythm in the 10th. An error broke the 2-2 tie, allowing the placed runner Alyssa Barcomb (East Haven, Conn.) to score with no outs. The Colonials managed a security run off the bat of Kayla Jessup (Danbury, Conn.) before the Corsairs' at-bat. O'Gryzek made it home from second on a ground-out by Sheerin, but Alex LaFemina (East Haddam, Conn.) made a sliding catch in left field to keep the tying run at third. 

Western Connecticut 7, UMass Dartmouth 3

Smith returned to the circle in game two, allowing UMass Dartmouth to draw even in the fourth, but a four-run top of the seventh by the Colonials put the cap on the series. 

Plasczynski's bat remained hot for the Colonials, as the freshman went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Sofia Palacios (San Fernando, Calif.) belted the go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh to seal the victory. For the Corsairs, Spinuzzi generated a 2-for-3 game including an RBI double.

Errors plagued the Corsairs from the beginning, with the Colonials capitalizing on three blunders in the first two innings to go up 3-0 early. Smith calmed the bats with her reappearance in the top of the third, and UMass Dartmouth began to connect in the bottom of the fourth. 

Colton led off the frame with a stand-up triple, and a fielding error on a Sheerin knocker rounded the run. Spinuzzi then send a double to left-center, deep enough to score Sheerin from first before sneaking to third on the throw. Freshman Brittany Polk (Bridgewater, Mass.) then picked up the RBI on a ground-out in the next at-bat, drawing the score even at three a side. 

Smith held WCSU hitless until the seventh when the Colonials found all the answers needed to put the game out of reach. With runners on first and second, Plasczynski doubled to deep center to send in both, and Palacios stroked the first pitch she saw as the next batter well over the left field fence. 

WCSU sophomore Jaclyn Smith (Sandwich, Mass.) gathered the win in the full seven, striking out six with just one run earned on six hits. Freshman Annika Evensen (Lake Forest, Calif.) took the loss as the starter despite no earned runs in the first inning. 

Inside the Numbers

  • Smith becomes just the fourth Corsair pitcher since 1983 to reach 200 strikeouts on her career, joining Debra Halstead '89, Brittany Eldridge '12 and former teammate Shannon Orton '16.
  • Smith now sits atop the Little East Conference after the opening weekend with her 1.39 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
  • Plasczynski finished her productive day for WCSU with a .444 average (4-for-9), driving in four runs with two doubles and a .667 slugging percentage.
  • Sunday's first game marks just the third outing this season that the Corsairs have allowed double-digit hits from an opponent, in the longest game for both teams yet this season.
  • Western Connecticut, the defending LEC champion, is now the winner of four-straight against UMass Dartmouth dating back to last season's series split.

Up Next
UMass Dartmouth is scheduled to host Roger Williams on Wednesday for a single game beginning at 4 p.m. Western Connecticut will host Springfield for a doubleheader on the same day, also starting at 4 p.m.