MANSFIELD, Conn. – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth softball team was eliminated from the 2015 Little East Conference Championship tournament this afternoon, falling to top-seeded Eastern Connecticut, 9-0, and second-seeded Western Connecticut State University, 9-0, at the Eastern Softball Stadium.
The Corsairs advanced to the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999, when it was an eight-team draw. UMass Dartmouth completed its 2015 campaign with an overall record of 8-20, including a 4-10 mark within the circuit.
GM 1: Eastern Connecticut 9, UMass Dartmouth 0 (6 innings)
Eastern Connecticut broke open the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning on back-to-back doubles by senior Shannon Martin (Wethersfield, Conn.) and freshman Haeli Campbell (Goffstown, N.H.). Senior Samantha Rossetti's (Shelton, Conn.) capped the five-run frame with a game-ending three-run homer to left centerfield.
Senior Erin Miller (Waterford, Conn.) pitched a complete-game, four-hitter with five strikeouts to record the victory.
UMass Dartmouth threatened to score in the top of the first inning, when sophomore Marissa Spinuzzi (Fair Lawn, N.J.) raked a double off the left field fence. Miller escaped the two-out trouble by striking out the next batter.
Eastern Connecticut capitalized on the momentum, scoring the eventual game-winner run on a sophomore Kristyn Ryan (Barkhamsted, Conn.) single. The Warriors struck for two runs in the third and added an insurance marker in the fourth.
Freshman Hannah Smith (Attleboro, Mass.) suffered the setback, limiting Eastern Connecticut to six hits and four runs (three earned) in five innings. She did not issue a walk and struck out two.
GM 4: Western Connecticut 9, UMass Dartmouth 0 (5 innings)
Second-seeded Western Connecticut scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning to extend its advantage to 6-0. The Colonials tacked on three additional runs in the fifth to avoid elimination in the six-team tournament.
Western Connecticut will advance to face the loser between fifth-seeded Southern Maine and third-seeded Keene State at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 1. The Huskies rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to edge the Colonials, 8-7, in Game 2.
Western Connecticut manufactured its first run of the contest as senior Nina Wojtkiewicz (Griswold, Conn.) walked, stole second, advanced to third on an error, and scored on a wild pitch. The Corsairs placed the tying run in scoring position with two outs thanks to another double to left field by Spinuzzi, but the "visitors" escaped the jam with a pop fly to right field.
The Colonials seized control of the ballgame in the fourth, sending nine batters to the plate. After a lead-off walk, Western Connecticut strung together three consecutive singles and another walk to Wojtkiewicz. The Colonials drove in the fourth run of the inning with a RBI bunt single before a sacrifice bunt capped the five-run outburst.
Junior Alle Sabith (Meriden, Conn) earned the victory, throwing four scoreless innings. She allowed three hits, while striking out two.
Smith (3-7) suffered the loss, giving up seven hits, six runs and four walks in four innings.