DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth softball team continued rolling Sunday, with a major-pitching milestone from Hannah Smith (Attleboro, Mass.) highlighting the game one victory, before Kylie Fletcher's (Dighton, Mass.) late-heroics dispatched Western Connecticut to complete the Little East Conference series-sweep.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 7, Western Connecticut 1 (Game One) | UMass Dartmouth 5, Western Connecticut 3 (Game Two)
Records: UMass Dartmouth 17-5, 4-0 LEC | Western Connecticut 4-16, 0-2 LEC
How it Happened
UMass Dartmouth 7, Western Connecticut 1
Smith completed a major milestone in the circle during game one as she fanned five batters to surpass 300-strikeouts on her career. In five innings of work, the right-hander enjoyed four runs of support while surrendering just one unearned run en route to her seventh victory of the season.
Offensively, the Corsairs outhit the opponent 9-6 as four players – Maddie O'Gryzek (Norfolk, Mass.), Emily Colton (Kingston, Mass.), Jill Richards (Kingston, Mass.) and Lexi Pereira (Middleboro, Mass.) – all contribute two-hit efforts to fuel the win.
In the top of the third, the bats awoke after being muzzled to just one hit to that point. After three consecutive singles loaded the bases, sophomore Cierra Sheerin (Bridgewater, Mass.) pushed across the first run of the contest as her sacrifice fly down the third base line allowed O'Gryzek to scamper in from third. One batter later, Richards delivered a two-out, two-RBI knock to left field to increase the lead to 3-0.
With a 4-1 advantage, the Corsairs upped the ante during the sixth inning. Pereira got it going as the first batter of the frame when she swatted her second homer of the year deep to left field. With a runner on first-base, O'Gryzek triple home the second score of the inning, before coming in herself one batter later on Leah Major's (Fairhaven, Mass.) sacrifice fly to centerfield marking the final run of the game.
UMass Dartmouth 5, Western Connecticut 3
The offense of UMass Dartmouth stood hot in the backend of the doubleheader, as the team outhit the opponent 11-8 in the contest as Fletcher, Richards, and Pereira all finished with multiple hits on their ledger. But it was Fletcher's game-changing piece in the top of the sixth that provided the team with its ninth consecutive victory.
Smith picked up her eighth victory, and second of the day, as she tossed three innings of relief to quell the productive start to the game from the Colonels' hitters. Sophomore Annika Evensen (Lake Forest, Calif.) shut the door for her second save of the year, pitching two innings, allowing no runs while striking out a pair.
Western Connecticut seized early momentum in the bottom of the second as back-to-back two-out RBI singles off the bats of Kamryn Geysen (East Hampton, Conn.) and Reilly McMahon (South Windsor, Conn.) plated the first runs of the game.
The Blue and Gold leveled it at two apiece, scoring a run in the second and third inning. In the second frame, Kaitlyn Hart (Norton, Mass.) snapped a two-game hitless streak when she ripped a single into left field to plate Hannah Sullivan (Shrewsbury, Mass.). During the next at-bats for the Corsairs, Sheerin drew the throw to second base on a stolen base attempt, allowing Colton the chance to sneak in to score from third base.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Colonels re-claimed the lead when McMahon struck for her second hit of the contest when she homered to the left centerfield gap for the 3-2 advantage. Western Connecticut nearly plated another, but Smith was able to buckle down with a runner in scoring position as she forced a fly out to nullify the threat.
However, UMass Dartmouth's hitters responded during the top of the fifth frame. With one down, back-to-back singles from Richards and Pereira put the tying run on first base. But Fletcher had other ideas than simply tying the game, as she drilled her third homer of the season to put the Corsairs up 5-3.
Evensen came into to start the sixth, Smith, successfully escaping a jam as she left two baserunners stranded. In the Colonels' last at-bats, the sophomore retired the final three batters of the game consecutively to seal the conference sweep.
Inside the Numbers
- The Corsairs continued to roll, notching their ninth consecutive victory while also winning in 12 of their last 15 contests.
- A winning streak of 5 or more victories has only happened four times since 2001, with three of those occasions coming in the last three seasons.
- The current streak ties the longest for the program since 2001, as the 2016 team took nine straight games from March 12-16.
- Colton extended her hitting streak to four games while Richards and O'Gryzek each pushed their individual streaks to six.
- Smith is undefeated in her last four starts, striking out 18 batters over that span to reach the career-mark of 300. Her 8-1 record and 1.70 earned run average currently lead the LEC.
- Fletcher and Pereira are locked for third in the conference and first on the team for home runs with three apiece. In the last four games, the duo is a combined 13-24 at the plate with four homers and 15 RBIs.
UMass Dartmouth hosts the Vikings of Salem State on Wednesday for a non-conference twin bill starting at 3:30 p.m. Western Connecticut will travel to New Paltz on April 11 for a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.