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The Mass Media

Softball continues to shine in superb start to season

Softball has been off and running with a sublime start to the season, and players have been tearing the cover off the ball in the process. The Beacons rode into Keene, NH with a 13–3 record Thursday, April 6, anticipating their first set conference games of the 2023 season with a double header against the Keene State Owls (1).

Going into their two-game series against the Owls, the Beacons were on fire. The team was coming off a three game winning streak in which they rumbled through the Suffolk University Rams and beat them 11–2 in six innings via the mercy rule, and followed suit with two wins over the Emerson College Lions, taming them and taking took them down in a double header by scores of 2–1 and 5–4 (1).

Their first game of the winning streak was an offensive showcase for the talented Beacons squad, who came out firing bullets on the Rams with a five run first inning. All five runs came before the Rams were able to record a single out, with an RBI double from Sydney Sanden getting the scoring started (2). Bri Melchionda connected for a two RBI double not long after, and to cap off the scoring spree, Lauren Miner launched a two run homer to extend the lead to five before the Rams had an opportunity to bat (2).

The second inning was errors galore for the Rams, and the Beacons jumped out to an 8–1 lead with three runs scored on wild pitches and an error by Rams catcher Becky Zellin. The final three runs scored by the Beacons came in the final three innings, with Amauri English roped an RBI single in the fourth inning to take an eight run lead at 9–1. In the sixth inning, Sanden hit an RBI single, while Kyleigh Gray got her first hit in her college career as well. Her hit tacked onto the Beacons’ offensive onslaught, and Melchionda’s pitching in the bottom half of the sixth secured the emphatic 11–2 Beacons victory (2).

Moving forward with momentum on their side, the Beacons took on Emerson at home, and they took care of business while doing so. UMass Boston was able to overpower the Lions in their doubleheader April 3. Game one saw a dazzling performance from Melchionda, who rang up 14 strikeouts, and despite giving up a run early to give the Lions a 1–0 advantage, Lauren Bethea knotted it up with a long ball in the fourth (3).

 In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Beacons took a 2–1 lead on a wild sequence. Haley Tilberry chopped a single into right field that went over the head of right fielder Carly Rosenberger, which resulted in a little league home run. Melchionda kept her composure for the final two frames, and the Beacons went on to win game one, 2–1. The second game of the day had the same outcome at the end, with the Beacons coming out on top once again, this time by a score of 5–4. However, this time around, the Beacons had to dig themselves out of a hole early on (3).

The Lions pounced on the Beacons with a 3–0 lead in the first inning off of a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded, and later on in the inning, a two run single by Ally Lacey. The lead became 4–0 in the fourth inning after a passed ball by Kaitlyn Sawyer caused another Lions run to score. The Beacons soon fought back though, and got their comeback started in the bottom half of the inning off a pair of doubles by Sanden and Amauri English, the latter of which cut the deficit to three. The next inning saw the Lions’ lead squander, as the Beacons scored four unanswered runs in the matter of two innings to tie things up at four (3).

The rally began with Jordan Toomey’s leadoff single, and she crossed the plate via a one out RBI single by Sofie Richland. Soon thereafter, Tilberry reached first on a sacrifice bunt attempt that resulted in a costly error by the Lions, which allowed two runners on, and up stepped Sanden, who rocketed a game tying two-run double. The Beacons went on to take a 5–4 lead in the sixth; not one, but two singles to begin the inning put pressure on the Lions (3).

 With Bethea and Sawyer aboard, Toomey moved them over to second and third with a sacrifice bunt of her own, and after a walk to Adrianna Fusco loaded up the bases for the Beacons, Richland’s liner to center field scored Bethea. The Lions tried to rally in the seventh, and forced a bases loaded situation with their cleanup hitter, Claire Overton, up to bat. The Beacons, however, got Overton to fly out, putting a nail in the Lions’ coffin and improving to 13–3 (3).

With a few days off between games, UMass Boston got back on the field with a doubleheader on the road against Keene State. The set of games provided some wild finishes, as both games ended in extra innings, with the Beacons taking game two. Game one’s action was a nailbiting thriller from start to finish, though it resulted in a heartbreaking loss for UMass Boston. The Beacons trailed 3–0 after some fielding woes, which were preluded by a hit batter and a double by Owls outfielder CC Chadwick, and put two runners in scoring position for Keene State. A throwing error by Bethea caused both runners to cross the plate, and an RBI groundout added another run to the scoreboard for the Owls (4).

UMass Boston responded in the fourth after Tam Landry launched a missile into left field for a two run homer to cut the lead to one, and it was the beginning of an outburst of six unanswered runs for the Beacons. Landry’s high IQ on the basepaths helped tie the game at three in the sixth, and in the tenth inning, three additional runs were scored with the help of two RBI doubles by Tilberry and Miner and an RBI groundout by Melchionda (4).

 It looked like UMass Boston was going to pull away with an extra innings victory, but the Owls responded in the bottom of the 10th; Sara Cote’s two run double and Grace Hallett’s RBI groundout tied the game up once again. The Beacons were unable to respond in the 11th, and the Owls walked it off on Amanda Cerratini’s sacrifice fly. The game-winning sac fly nearly resulted in an outfield assist by English, but Landry’s dive for the tag was too late, and game one ended, 7–6 (4).

Game two presented a different ending for the Beacons. Trailing 3–1 after Cote’s two run homer, the team once again rallied in the top of the fourth, scoring a run to cut the deficit to one after an RBI groundout by Toomey plated Miner, who hit a leadoff double to begin the frame. An RBI by Cote in the fifth brought the Owls back up to a 4–2 lead, but Fusco’s single with two outs in the sixth inning evened the score, and Richland’s infield single in the next at bat gave the Beacons their first lead of game two. The Beacons were looking to win in the seventh, but a costly error by Miner allowed the tying run to score, forcing extra innings (4).

The international rule came in place in extras, with ghost runners now on base. Ghost runners are brought on base when there aren’t enough players left to fill the bases, and only advance as many bases as the batter, traveling at the same speed as well (5). The Beacons took advantage of the enforced rule; Sawyer scored Miner—who was the invisible runner—and the team took a 6–5 lead in extras. In the bottom of the tenth, Sanden made the play of the game when she threw out the ghost runner at home, and the Beacons preserved the lead for the final two outs, winning the contest, 6–5 (4).

The Beacons have had a stellar start to the season, and everything is clicking for them at the moment. One thing to note is that their fatal flaw is their defensive struggles, as errand throws and wild pitches can be vital in make or break situations in games. Nonetheless, the Beacons are on top of the world, and if all goes to plan and they keep up their terrific performances, then they’ll be sitting atop the Little East Conference as champions when the season come summertime.

  1. 2023 Softball Schedule – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  2. Mighty Miner Leads Softball to Six-Inning Win Over Suffolk University – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  3. Bethea and Company Break Out Brooms Against Emerson College on Monday – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  4. (UMass) Boston Marathon Thursday Ends in LEC Doubleheader Split for Softball at Keene State – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  5. Invisible runner rule – Wikipedia

About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor