ALBANY, N.Y. – UMBC softball's junior infielder Bridget O'Malley (Baltimore, Md./Seton Keough) drove in a pair of runs on a single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning to help the Retrievers take the series opener against Albany on Saturday afternoon at Albany Field and remain unbeaten in league play. Game two of the day was pushed back to Sunday, April 12, which will now feature a doubleheader starting at 11:30 a.m. at Albany Field.
O'Malley's single in the top of the fifth inning broke the tie and gave the Retrievers (17-12) a lead it would not relinquish. Sophomore pitcher Jessica Holte (Ashland, Va./Atlee) picked up her ninth straight victory, matching a career-best win streak from last season. Holte, who has surrendered just seven earned runs in her last nine starts, surrendered a pair of runs on eight hits.
The Retrievers pick up their first win against Albany, the defending league champions, since 2010 and first on the Great Danes' home field since 2009 to improve to 7-0 in conference play, UMBC's best start to a conference season since joining the America East.
"Today was a signature win in a battle of two good teams," said UMBC Head Coach Joe French. "Anytime you beat the defending champion, it shows the heart of your team. Jessica pitched a great game and we came up with numerous clutch plays, both offensively and defensively.
"Now we just need to keep working hard on a daily basis and continue to improve in order to build off our recent past," French continued.
A double to left from junior Danielle O'Neill (Lothian, Md./Southern) and back-to-back walks from senior Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) and sophomore Kaelin Jackson (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first inning for the Retrievers. Sophomore Kelly Lane (Albany, N.Y./Colonie Central) capitalized with a single to left field to put the Retrievers on top, 1-0. Albany pitcher Devin Durando was able to escape the remainder of the inning without further damage, striking out back-to-back batters.
Albany put runners on first and third with one out in the bottom half of the frame on a single, sacrifice bunt and another single. A stolen base from Maggie Cocks moved a second runner into scoring position and a dropped strike three call loaded the bases with one out for the Great Danes. A grounder to third from Marlin Solano tied the contest at one apiece after one.
The Retrievers received a pair of singles from the bottom of the lineup to start the second, but UMBC, who left 11 runners on base in the contest, stranded two runners in scoring position in the inning.
The Great Danes loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the second inning on back-to-back singles and walk, but Holte was able to regroup and get Cocks to pop out to third to preserve the tie.
Durando ended her day after allowing one run on four hits in two innings of work. Erynn Sobieski tossed a pair of scoreless innings for the Great Danes, but Hall started things off with a one-out single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning to extend her hit streak to 12 games. Jackson followed with her second hit of the day to put two runners on. Lane grounded into a fielder's choice, but pinch runner Erin Trnka (Goffstown, N.H./Goffstown) picked up her second stolen base of the season to put runners on second and third for O'Malley's two-run single.
Albany got one back in the bottom half of the fifth. Cocks reached on a one-out double and moved over to third on a single from Elizabeth Snow. A single to left from Kelly Costello scored Cocks, but Holte picked up her second strikeout of the day to help the Retrievers' hold the lead. Holte did not allow a base runner in the final two innings to help UMBC pick up the victory. Sobieski (5-3) allowed two runs on six hits in five innings of work.