DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- UMass Dartmouth clinched its first-ever Little East Conference softball regular season championship by posting a 6-1 nightcap victory over Western Connecticut to gain a split of a league twinbill Monday afternoon at the UMD Softball Complex. The visiting Colonials clinched the sixth and final spot in the upcoming conference tournament by taking a 5-0 opening game decision.
The host Corsairs, who finish the regular season at 22-16 overall and a full-game ahead of runner-up Plymouth State at 12-4 in Little East action, overcame a 1-0 second inning deficit by scoring all of their runs in that frame. Freshman Lindsay Chubbuck (Berkley, Mass.) evened matters for UMass Dartmouth with an RBI double and scored the go-ahead run on freshman Averi Soares’ (New Bedford, Mass.) single to right center. Sophomore Leah Major (Fairhaven, Mass.) followed with a fielder’s choice that plated the third run of the inning for the Corsairs, who took advantage of three errors to tack on three more tallies during the rally and close out the scoring.
Soares rapped out two hits in the nightcap triumph for UMass Dartmouth, which received a two-bagger from fellow freshman Autumn Medeiros (Swansea, Mass.) as part of a 10-hit attack. Junior Kate McDonald (Scituate, Mass.), the third of four Corsair pitchers in the second outing, tossed three scoreless frames and recorded a strikeout to earn her fourth win in six decisions on the spring for the hosts.
Western Connecticut (19-15, 7-9 LEC) had taken their one-run second inning lead on senior Nicole Bonanni’s (Norwalk, Conn.) RBI single up the middle, which was one of four hits garnered in the second outing by the Colonials. Junior Sara Tenke (Glen Cove, N.Y.) added a double as well for the visitors, as junior Angelina Miller (Holbrook, N.Y.) suffered the setback inside the circle in allowing three earned runs in an inning-plus of action.
Junior Charline Plasczynski’s (Bristol, Conn.) RBI single to left in the top of the third gave Western Connecticut the only run it would need in the opener, and senior Erica Bower (Hillsborough, N.J.) extended that edge to 2-0 in the sixth with a run-scoring single to right center. Tenke broke things open for the Colonials in the seventh with a three-run double to center, and that would prove to be enough for Miller, who tossed four hitless innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts to collect her fifth triumph of the season. Major and junior Nicole McSweeney (Bridgewater, Mass.) accounted for UMass Dartmouth’s hits in the opening game setback, as sophomore Jill Richards (Kingston, Mass.) fanned five in going the distance inside the circle for the Corsairs to fall to 9-9 on the season.
UMass Dartmouth will host the 2019 Little East Conference Championships beginning on Thursday at the UMD Softball Complex, as the Corsairs will tangle with Western Connecticut in opening round play at 10:00 am. Thursday’s other opening round contests will pit second-seeded Plymouth State and fifth-seeded UMass Boston at Noon, followed by third-seeded Eastern Connecticut meeting fourth-seeded Southern Maine at 2:00 pm. The double elimination tournament continues throughout the weekend, with the winner receiving the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championships.