Panthers come up one win shy of qualifying for playoffs
BOSTON – Needing a doubleheader sweep to qualify for the Little East Conference Tournament, the Plymouth State University softball team edged the University of Massachusetts Boston in the opener, 4-3, but went down to defeat in the nightcap, 9-7, Saturday afternoon at the UMB Softball field.
The Beacons, also facing a win or go home game in the nightcap, scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to break open a 6-6 game and secure a spot in the Little East Tournament for the first time since 2013.UMB is now 19-17 overall and 6-8 in conference play, while PSU ends its season at 17-23 overall and 5-9 in the Little East.
UMass Boston earned the fifth seed in the tournament and will travel to second-seeded UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday. The rest of the tournament will be hosted by top-seeded Keene State College starting on Friday.
PSU scored all four of its runs in the first two innings and held on for the win. Senior ace Whitney Roberts (Chocorua, N.H.) kept her team's playoff hopes alive, as she allowed just six hits and one earned run in seven innings of work for the Panthers.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead with a two-out rally in the first inning. Junior Katie Kennard (Concord, N.H.) started it with a base hit, and after a wild pitch, senior Julia Royer (Pawcatuck, Conn.) and sophomore Abrie Davis (Amherst, N.H.) smacked back-to-back RBI singles. Freshman Lindsey Hall (Midlothian, Va.) delivered the key blow in the second inning with a two-run triple to right center field to put PSU up 4-0.
UMass Boston finally was able to put together some offense, when the Panthers replaced Roberts in the circle to start the sixth inning. After Roberts had allowed just one hit and one walk in the first five innings, sophomore Allison Moylan (Methuen, Mass.) came on to start the sixth.
Freshman Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) greeted Moylan with a single into right field and junior Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.) followed with her first collegiate home run, a two-run homer, over the left-field fence.
Roberts came right back out to replace Moylan and limited the Beacons to a single in four batters.
UMass Boston nearly earned the win they needed in the seventh inning. With one out, pinch hitter Taylor Marcotte (Agawam, Mass.) reached first on a single through the left side. Fellow freshman Alyssa Tulley (Lowell, Mass.) tacked on another single and Pawlina cut the deficit to 4-3 with an RBI single up the middle. UMass Boston loaded the bases on a Morse bunt single, but Roberts closed out the game with back-to-back groundouts.
With both teams desperate for a win in game two, UMass Boston would force the Panthers to play from behind, as the home team jumped out early and never trailed in their playoff clinching victory.
The Beacons took a 5-0 lead after two innings. Roxanne Vento had a two-run single to score the first two runs; Alexa St. Angelo added an RBI single and sacrifice flies by Alyssa Tulley and Gia Raczkowski brought home runs to make it 5-0.
The Panthers rallied to tie the game with a five-spot in the third inning. Sophomore Nina Murray (Saugus, Mass.) singled to left to put PSU on the board, and Kennard was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in another run. Royer followed with an RBI single through the left side, and Davis capped the rally with a two-run single to center.
The teams traded runs in their next at bats, Tulley singling in a run in the bottom of the third and Kennard driving in a run in the top of the fourth. The Beacons took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by Vento and a two-run double by Taylor Marcotte.
PSU scored one run in the top of the sixth, Hall knocking in the run with a fielder's choice grounder. The Panthers put the tying runners on base in the seventh inning, but couldn't push the tying runs across the plate.
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