Softball Splits At Leadoff Classic Day 2
Feb. 28, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ga. - Junior Kelli Arnold (Kalama, Wash.) threw a one-hit shutout and sophomore KJ Kelley (Rainier, Ore.) hit a solo home run to lead the University of Massachusetts softball team (2-7) to a 1-0 win over Central Michigan (2-1) today in the NFCA Leadoff Classic, but Florida Atlantic (14-8) downed the Minutewomen in the night cap, 4-1. UMass will now face Army at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow on the loser's side of the bronze medal championship bracket.
The UMass offense got right to work in the first inning off CMU pitcher Jill DeRouche, but it was unable to score. Junior Hilary Puglia (Stoneham, Mass.) led off the game with a double, but was thrown out on the next play when senior Aisha Franke (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit into a fielder's choice. In the second inning UMass again put its leadoff man on as senior Jamie Cahalan (Mesa, Ariz.) singled and stole second base, but the Minutewomen were unable to score.
Finally in the fourth, UMass broke the scoreless tie as Kelley led off with a home run. It was her second dinger of the season. It turned out to be all Arnold would need as she turned in her best performance on the mound this season. She scattered three hits and a walk while fanning five for the shutout.
UMass threatened for some insurance in the top of the sixth for Arnold but again were unable to get a timely hit. Puglia led off with a single to complete her 3-for-3 game as the top of the order. Franke then reached on a two-base error that moved Puglia to third. Amber Puchalski then came in relief and retired the next three UMass hitters in a row. The Chippewas put their leadoff man on in the bottom of the seventh via a single, but Arnold buckled down to get the next three batters down and end UMass' six-game losing streak. Despite the win, UMass slipped into the bronze medal bracket, while CMU headed for the gold medal bracket.
UMass drew Florida Atlantic University in the first round of the bronze medal championship and the Owls wasted no time in getting to UMass sophomore pitcher Jenna Busa (Lexington, Mass.). A leadoff walk and double put runners at second and third with no outs, but Busa settled down to get three straight ground outs and get out the inning with just one run coming across on the second out of the inning.
The UMass bats remained silent until the fourth inning. Puglia reached on an error, the first baserunner of the game for the Minutewomen, but after stealing second she was doubled off on a pop-up by Kelley. In the fifth, UMass was able to tie the game, but had a chance for more. Senior KC Budrewicz (Buckland, Mass.) reached on an error to get the inning started and moved to second on a single by Cahalan. After a bunt moved runners to second and third, freshman Amanda Morin (Worcester, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice to drive in Budrewicz with the tying run. With the go-ahead runs at second and third, sophomore Kristi Stefanoni (Columbus, N.J.) lined out and then Cahalan was picked off to end the inning.
FAU went up for good in the bottom of the sixth as Jenn Piazza hit a game-winning three-run home run to left off Busa. Piazza had al four RBI on the day for the Owls. Busa gave up seven hits and a walk while striking out one in six innings. All four runs were earned. For FAU, Amanda Morin went the distance yielding just two hits and no walks while fanning four.
The Minutewomen will now face Army on the loser's side of the bronze medal bracket at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. If they win, they will move on to play either Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Arizona State or Cal State Fullerton in the consolation championship at 1:00 p.m.