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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Softball Wins LEC Tournament Title

The University of Massachusetts Boston Beacons softball team entered the Little East Conference Tournament full of confidence despite finishing only in fourth place, even after winning more regular season games than top-seeded Plymouth State University Panthers. They got off to a rousing start in the opening game, topping fellow UMass satellite rival Dartmouth by a 3-2 score behind a strong performance from top pitcher Jess Greenspan, who earned her 17th win of the year.
They would get a taste of what they needed to bring when it really mattered against the top-seeded Panthers, who would outclass the Beacons by a 5-2 score thanks to a pair of RBI hits from PSU’s Debra Morrill. But the pressure cranked up from the setup of the double-elimination tournament did not rattle the resilient Beacon team. In the next game that would determine who would face PSU for the LEC Tournament championship, Greenspan came through in the clutch once again, allowing just one run on seven hits as the Beacons prevailed over Eastern Connecticut State University 2-1.
With that, the Beacons earned their opportunity to avenge their early loss to the Panthers, where in the double-elimination scenario to determine the champion, the Panthers needed to win just one game, while the Beacons needed to win two consecutively.
The first game was impacted by rain, with play being suspended in the bottom of the second inning on May 5 and set to resume the following Saturday. Despite this, it would not affect the Beacons pitching staff one bit, as Annie Thomas would perform brilliantly when play resumed. She allowed just one run and three hits in four innings, before Greenspan took over in relief and slammed the door shut on a Panther comeback, retiring the final nine batters to secure the first game victory.
Kiera Prusmack went go 2-3 with two runs scored, while Kaitlyn Morse scored the other run for the 3-1 Beacons win and force the winner-take-all contest later in the day. In the second game, the Beacons came out of the gate offensively, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning off a squeeze bunt from Taylor Pawlina, and a sacrifice grounder from Alyssa Tulley.
With LEC Tournament MVP Greenspan once again on the mound, the Beacons never looked back, as she held the Panthers to just two runs while scattering nine hits, shutting them out until the fifth inning in another complete game effort. Added insurance runs would come for the Beacons, scoring three runs in the fourth and another in the fifth. Morse, Roxanne Vento, Gia Raczkowski, and Ari Bilotta drove in the RBIs for those runs. They rendered the Panthers’ two scored runs meaningless, and the Beacons earned their right to celebrate their first LEC Tournament title.
Greenspan went 3-0, allowing five runs, four earned, in over 24 innings of work while also earning a save. Morse paced the Beacons offense, going 7-16 at the plate with four runs, five RBI, and five walks. With the victory, they also earned their first NCAA Tournament berth in their history.
With history made, no matter how far they go come NCAA Tournament time, they have set the bar high for the Beacons softball program in future seasons. Moreover, it should be expected that more successful campaigns like this one can be repeated in the near future, as Greenspan and Prusmack are freshmen, and are figured to be part of the core for which Coach Natalia Ardagna can recruit and build around going forward.
Further, 13 players on the team are either freshmen or sophomores, and hold the potential to leave a great legacy in Beacons softball and athletics, and should give the men on softball’s stick-and-ball sibling of baseball some friendly competition on who’s the more popular spring sport on the Beacons campus. In the meantime, the Beacons have the opportunity to make the most of their maiden NCAA Tournament appearance, and aim to go deep in the Division III Softball Championship.