BALTIMORE – UMBC softball swept Sunday's doubleheader against Hartford to help head coach Joe French earn his 400th victory with the program. The Retrievers outscored the Hawks, 19-1, in a pair of five-inning America East contests at the UMBC Softball Stadium.
Sophomore pitcher Jessica Holte (Ashland, Va./Atlee) registered her second straight shutout victory, guiding the Retrievers to a 10-0 win in game one, while junior Bridget O'Malley (Baltimore, Md./Seton Keough) went two-for-three from the dish with three RBI in the contest. UMBC registered eight hits in game two en route to a 9-1 win and a 2-0 start in America East play. Senior Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) registered five RBI on the day and moved up in the Retrievers' record books in extra-base hits, RBI and walks on the day.
The Retrievers have won 12 of their last 15 contest, including five straight, to improve to 12-11 on the season, while Hartford drops to 1-19 overall.
GAME 1: The Retrievers' bats were ready for the start of conference play, batting around in the first frame and registering five hits to jump out in front, 9-0, in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman Tori Alexander (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge Senior) started things off with a single into right-center field and junior Danielle O'Neill (Lothian, Md/Southern) put runners on first and second with a walk. Hall put the Retrievers on top, 2-0, on a double down the left field line, moving her into a tie for sixth on UMBC's career extra-base hits list (72) and sixth in career RBI list (127). Sophomore Kelly Lane (Albany, N.Y./Colonie Central) helped to give the Retrievers a three-run cushion on an RBI-single up the middle.
O'Malley added to the damage with her first home run of the season to extend the advantage to 5-0 and freshman Carly Lesko (New Milford, N.J./New Milfrod) followed with her fourth homer of the year. Hartford starting pitcher Bianca Ross exited the game after allowing six runs on five hits in the top of the first.
Hartford relief pitcher Lexi Wilkerson struggled to find her zone, walking five consecutive batters to let the Retrievers take a 9-0 lead after one inning of play.
Holte allowed just two base runners through the first three innings of play, but a double from Marisa Ferguson and a single from Danielle DeMarco put a pair of runners on board for the Hawks. A batter interference call put an end to the threat for Holte and the Retrievers.
O'Malley added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI-single to make it a 10-0 ball game.
Holte tossed her second shutout victory of the season to improve to 6-5 on the season. The second-year pitcher allowed four hits and fanned three batters. Wilkerson threw 3.2 innings of relief for the Hawks, allowing one hit but walking six batters to surrender four runs.
GAME 2: Hartford looked to start things off different in game two as the Hawks came out and put a pair of runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning, but UMBC starter Kim Puccio (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) got out of the jam scoreless. The Retrievers responded by loading the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the frame. A walk from sophomore Kaelin Jackson (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) gave the Retrievers a 1-0 advantage. Further control problems from Hartford starter Kelsey Bird led to freshman Toni Santonastasso (Galena, Ohio/Pope John XXIII Regional) being hit by a pitch and UMBC taking a 2-0 lead, but Bird and the Hawks were able to retire the next three batters to escape any further damage.
The Hawks put runners on second and third with one out following a single to right from Maggie Betz and a double to left from Danielle DeMarco in the top of the second inning. A ground out to short gave the Retrievers a second out, but back-to-back walks from Puccio gave Hartford its first run of the day, 2-1.
Hall picked up her first of two RBI in game two with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second inning to score freshman Emily Neal (Bear, Del./Caravel Academy) and extend UMBC's lead to 3-1.
The Retrievers' offense struck again in the bottom of the third inning, as a single and back-to-back walks from UMBC loaded the bases. A blooper to left from senior Courtney Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla./Stoneman Douglas) scored a run for the Retrievers and another walk from Bird gave UMBC a 5-1 advantage. Wilkerson came in relief with the bases loaded and no outs, but she also allowed a walk to bring the Retrievers' run total to three in the third.
Hartford put runners on first and third in the fifth but a nice play from UMBC second baseman Katlin Olesky (Irvine, Calif./Saddleback College) to complete the double play ended the inning. The Hawks left nine runners on base in the game.
The Retrievers put their first two batters on with singles in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hartford ended the contest by walking back-to-back batters, followed by a pair of hit batters.
-Senior Taylor Hall moved into third all-time at UMBC in walks (85), passing assistant coach Julia Culotta. Hall also moved into seventh in extra-base hits (71) and sixth in RBI (130), passing Amy Wolff in both categories. Hall also extended her streak by reaching base safely in 17 consecutive games.
-Freshman Tori Alexander extended her hit streak to 11 games.
UP NEXT FOR THE RETRIEVERS: UMBC concludes the series against Hartford at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 30 at the UMBC Softball Stadium. The Retrievers play host to George Washington on Tuesday, March 31 at 2 p.m. at the UMBC Softball Stadium.