April 18, 2009
by John Cabral
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's softball team had a rough afternoon, swept by visiting Keene State in a Little East Conference doubleheader at the UMass Dartmouth Athletic Complex Saturday. Keene State took the first game 14-1, and outlasted the Corsairs in Game two for a 4-1 victory.
In the opener, the Owls offensive barrage began immediately, as a Jenna Patnode (Surry, NH) double commenced a four run first inning. Patnode had the only Owl hit in the inning, which was elongated by a pair of Corsair errors. Corsair centerfielder Michelle Conway (Burrillville, RI/ Burrillville HS) responded immediately, belting the game's first Owl pitch deep over the right-centerfield fence for her first home run of the season. However, the Corsairs were shut down the rest of the way by freshman righthander Courtney Savoie (Stratham, NH), who surrendered four hits and struck out eight in an abbreviated complete game, improving to 5-3 for the year with the win. Freshman starting pitcher Brittany Eldridge (Raynham, MA/Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High) took the loss, falling to 4-7 on the season.
Keene State pounded out five runs in both the third and fifth innings, and the game was called due to a run rule after the completion of the fifth inning. The nightcap was far more competitive, with the teams swapping first inning runs and remaining tied into the fifth. The Corsairs quickly erased their 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first. Once again, Conway induced the Corsair run, this time by walking, advancing to second on a pass ball, stealing third, and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Eldridge, who played first base in the second game. This was all the offense the Corsairs were able to muster off of freshman righthander Samantha Pratt (West Hartford, CT), who allowed just the one run on four hits with four strikeouts in a complete game victory, running her record to 3-1. Pratt did not allow multiple hits in any inning, and did not issue another walk after the leadoff pass to Conway.
Corsair sophomore starting pitcher Ashley Puls (West Springfield, MA/West Springfield HS) took a hard luck loss to fall to 2-5 on the campaign. Puls threw a four run, eight hit, four strikeout complete game. She also recorded the final out of the first game in relief, giving her a total of 7.1 innings pitched for the afternoon. Puls was highly effective for the majority of her start, keeping the Owls scoreless in four of seven frames. Puls recorded eight consecutive outs stretching from the end of the fifth inning through the beginning of the seventh. All four Keene State runs were scored during the three innings in which Puls issued her five walks. "She was composed out there," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Kelly Roy-Sale. "She hit most of her spots and got ahead in counts when she could." The afternoon's lone dramatic frame was the nightcap's bottom of the fifth. After Keene loaded the bases with no outs, senior shortstop Vicki Andruskiewicz (Danvers, MA/Danvers HS) fielded a ground ball off of the bat of Owl shortstop Katie Bradford (Lebanon, NH). With the go-ahead run nearing home, Andruskiewicz hurriedly fired home to outstretched freshman catcher Diane Barry (Norwood, MA/Norwood HS) for a force out to preserve the 1-1 tie. This proved to be a brief reprieve, however, as Keene went on to take the lead on two runs later in the inning.
For the Corsairs, Conway's offensive performance was an impressive silver lining. Conway reached base on every plate appearance of the day, going a combined 3-for-3 with a home run, run batted in, two runs scored, stolen base, and a walk. The centerfielder homered and singled before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the first game, and followed with a walk/run scored, double, and single in the nightcap. "She's been one of our most consistent batters," Roy-Sale said. "She's effective up there, which is good."
Although disappointed by the day's results, Roy-Sale was encouraged by the team's improvement in the field as the afternoon progressed. "Our defense was much better in the second game," Roy-Sale said. "It has been our strength all year and it kept us in the game."
UMass Dartmouth dropped to 7-17 and 2-8 in the Little East Conference, while Keene State improved to 13-10-1 overall and 3-2-1 in LEC play. The Corsairs will return to action when they host Eastern Connecticut State in a Little East Conference doubleheader Tuesday. The Owls will visit Western Connecticut in a doubleheader tomorrow.
UMASS DARTMOUTH SOFTBALL