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The Mass Media

Softball steps out of slump and hope to finish season strong

Bri+Melchionda+pitches+at+home+game+on+Tuesday%2C+April+18%2C+2023.+Photo+by+Eva+Lycette+%28She%2FHer%29+%2F+Mass+Media+Staff.

Bri Melchionda pitches at home game on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Photo by Eva Lycette (She/Her) / Mass Media Staff.

UMass Boston’s Softball Team has been trying to work their way out of a slump recently. After a spontaneous hiccup halted their stupendous start, it soon erupted and caused some holes in the Beacons’ play, and in turn manifested itself as a string of losses for the team (1).

The Beacons rolled through their schedule and paved the way for a one way ticket to one of the top seeds in the Little East Conference. Their 15–4 record was the best start to a season in program history and solidified them as a top threat in the LEC (1). With their record taking a massive hit, there’s some patchwork needed to aid them after they’ve fallen down the standings. 

Things were looking up after the Beacons’ game one victory against The University of Southern Maine April 8. A 10–2 victory over the Huskies brought optimism for the team to go on and reach greater heights (1). Although, with the Beacons rising, altitude sickness caught up with them. There’s been some turbulence for the team in their recent stretch of games, which included a three-game losing streak in the midst of their struggles. 

Softball’s second game of the doubleheader against the Huskies displayed a pitching battle, and what was once an offense firing on all cylinders became one that ran cold. Huskies’ pitcher Lauren Merrill did it all for Southern Maine in game two, shutting down a potent Beacon offense that plated 10 the game prior. Not only that, but she got the game winning Runs Batted In in the fifth inning, as her two-out single became the difference maker of the match. Merrill went on to pitch the final three frames for Southern Maine, allowing one more Beacon to reach base in a seven-inning shutout win (1).

After their bats froze up against Southern Maine, UMass Boston embarked on a six-game road trip, but unfortunately wound up with a 2–4 record over that span. All six games consisted of doubleheader matchups for the Beacons. The group took on Western Connecticut State University Tuesday, April 13, before traveling to Framingham to face Framingham State University Thursday, April 15; to round out their journey, softball went up north for a series against Plymouth State University Saturday, April 15 (2).  

The first matchup in Danbury, Conn. was a hectic one from start to finish. An RBI single by Western Connecticut’s Benni Tucci in the third inning gave the Wolves a 1–0 advantage, but the Beacons responded quickly in the next half-inning. Lauren Miner got the Beacons on the board with an RBI triple; it was her fifth three-bagger of the season. Amauri English’s base hit in the fifth knocked in two more runs for UMass Boston, but the bottom half of the inning saw the Beacons’ two run lead squander as a result of two RBI singles and a Lauryn Bethea error (3). 

The Beacons’ resilience was put on full display in the seventh; a bases loaded walk for Miner knotted the game up at four runs apiece. However, trouble brewed in the bottom half of the inning, and the Wolves walked off on a bases loaded sacrifice fly. Luckily, the night wasn’t finished for the Beacons, and they were able to split the series against the Wolves in game two (3).  

Bri Melchionda put on a show in the second game against WestConn, pitching three no-hit innings before allowing a base hit in the fourth. Despite allowing a run later that inning, the offense picked up where they left off earlier in the season. Two RBI singles by Kaitlyn Sawyer and Kaylee Bruce gave the Beacons a 2–1 lead in the sixth, and Bethea’s RBI single in the seventh patted onto the lead. Melchionda led the way in the bottom half, resulting in a complete game and a 3–1 win for UMass Boston (3). 

With momentum on their side following their win against WestConn, things did not go according to plan when the team went up against Framingham State. The Rams rammed through the Beacons to sweep the series with 10–2 and 5–4 victories; the former coming via mercy rule. A five-run third inning by the Rams propelled them to a 9–0 lead after three innings, putting the Beacons in jeopardy of ending the game early. Two runs would score in the fourth to cut the lead to seven, but a 10th run in the fifth gave the Rams the win in game one. The blowout was the first time the Beacons lost by way of mercy rule this season (4).  

Game two saw a similar end result for the team. The Rams started by jumping out to a 2–0 lead in the first after an RBI single and a wild pitch by Melchionda plated the go-ahead runs. Sydney Sanden brought the deficit to one in the third inning with an RBI groundout, and Bethea gave the Beacons the first lead of the series with a two-run single in the fifth.  

Three unanswered runs by the Rams gave Framingham State the lead back at 5–3. Miner cut the lead to 5–4 in the seventh, but a popout by Jordan Toomey killed the rally and brought the brooms out for the Rams’ two-game sweep (4).  

Now losers of two straight, the Beacons were hoping to get back on track against Plymouth State. Instead, the Panthers pounced on them in game one for a 10–2 win in five innings; the second time the Beacons lost via mercy rule in three days. Bruce provided a spark to the team and got them a 2–0 lead in the third, but 10 unanswered runs by the Panthers—including a seven-run shelling in the fifth inning—ended the game. As wild as game one had gotten, game two turned out to be a completely different breed of outrageousness.  

Melchionda was once again lights out for UMass Boston the first half of the contest, allowing no hits after three innings, but her first hit put the Beacons in a 1–0 hole. Another RBI single in the inning put the Panthers up two, but UMass Boston’s plate discipline paid off in the sixth, as three consecutive bases loaded walks put the team ahead 3–2. With their eyes set on a win, a lucky break in the bottom of the seventh helped the Beacons avoid disaster (5).  

With Melchionda going for another complete game, Plymouth State’s Abbey Nezuch helped the Panthers threaten with a double, putting the tying run on second base. A subsequent double by Madison Pelletier brought Nezuch home, seemingly tying the game up at three. The problem was, Pelletier wasn’t supposed to be up to bat; Panthers’ utility player Sam McCann was next, following Nezuch. This ruled out Pelletier. As a result, Nezuch was forced back to second with the tying run redacted. Melchionda made things interesting after a single and walk loaded the bases for the Panthers with two outs, but a strikeout to Mia Ly gave the Beacons the win (5).

UMass Boston hoped to carry their newly formed momentum with a doubleheader against UMass Dartmouth Tuesday, April 18 (2), but the Corsairs came into Columbia Point cleaning house. The Beacons got off to a hot start in game one with English’s first inning two-run double providing a jumpstart for the team, but an error by Minor cut the lead in half in the second. Bruce nearly provided an insurance run in the third after she ripped one down the right field line, but the relay by the Corsairs nabbed her, as the play at the plate prevented an inside-the-park homerun. Sawyer got revenge with a two-run double to dead center in the fourth to make it 4–1 Beacons, but some fielding miscues in the sixth inning created a shift in the game (6).

Back-to-back doubles brought the score to within two, and an error that followed made it 4–3. Soon enough, the Corsairs tied it with an RBI single, and an error by Sanden in the outfield gave them their first lead of the game. With Melchionda coming on to relieve Emily Doble in the seventh, a wild pitch cushioned the Corsairs’ lead and made it 6–4. The Beacons rallied and put runners on second and third in the seventh, but ultimately failed to do damage, dropping the game by a final of 6–4 (6). 

Game two of the doubleheader saw the Beacons get shut out, but despite the 7–0 final score, only one run was earned, and the team’s defensive mishaps continued. The Corsairs caused a ruckus early, plating one in the first inning with an RBI single—the only earned run of the game. In the innings that followed, the Beacons failed to plate runners in scoring position in five consecutive innings (6).

Despite the recent abnormalities within the team, UMass Boston has been able to get back on the right track recently and got their groove again in a match against Suffolk University Thursday, April 20. Command issues were a huge factor of the game, as both the Beacons and Rams combined for nine walks in the first two frames (7).  

Suffolk pulled out to a 1–0 lead on a sacrifice fly in the first, but UMass Boston responded with a bases-loaded fielder’s choice to tie the game. A costly error by Miner in the second helped the Rams load the bases up the next half-inning, and a walk by Melchionda helping them regain a one-run advantage. However, the lead would not last long; English launched her third homer of the year to tie the game once again in the third inning. Not long after, a wild pitch by Rams’ Ava Brandow broke the tie in the fourth, and in the same at-bat, Bruce hit an RBI infield single to extend the lead 4–2 (7).  

Adrianna Fusco came in to relieve Melchionda and shut down the Rams with her three innings of work, only allowing one runoff of a passed ball. Doble blazed through the final two innings and notched her first save of the year, preserving the Beacons’ 4–3 lead for the win (7).

The Beacons’ recent slump may have made a mark on their record, but the team persevered through the season, all while having the time and skill to get back to their winning ways. Granted, there have been a lot of problems on defense as of late, not to mention some problems with executing offensively. With the way things were going at the beginning of the season, there’s still a lot of high hopes and promise for the team moving forward. Now is the time to ensure these troubles get fixed that way, at the end of the regular season, these issues aren’t as evident as they once were, especially with the LEC tournament approaching.

1. Tale of Two Games Earns Softball LEC Split With Southern Maine – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

2. 2023 Softball Schedule – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

3. Bruce’s Big Hit Earns Softball LEC Doubleheader Split WithWestConn – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

4. Softball Suffers First Doubleheader Sweep Of Season at Framingham State University – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

5. Wild Finish Helps Softball Earn LEC Doubleheader Split at Plymouth State – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

6. Fielding Woes Sink Softball in LEC Doubleheader Versus UMass Dartmouth – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

7. Fusco Fires Softball to Victory Over Suffolk University on Thursday – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com) 

 

 

About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor