Softball Wins Two And Advances In Championship Bracket Of Speedline Invitational
March 12, 2005
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Massachusetts (7-7) advanced to the semifinals of the Speedline Invitational with a pair of wins Saturday. The Minutewomen began the day by defeating Illinois-Chicago (8-13), 4-2, and then knock off Central Michigan (6-5), 5-4, in the play-in game of the championship bracket later in the day. UMass junior pitcher Barb LaFogg (Williamsburg, Mass.) picked up the win on the mound in both games.
The Minutewomen got going with a run in the first inning. Senior Hilary Puglia (Stoneham, Mass.) led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by sophomore Candice Molinari (Glendora, Calif.). Junior KJ Kelley (Ranier, Ore.) then doubled Puglia home with the game's first run. UMass then made it a 2-0 game with another run in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman Lauren Proctor (Redmond, Wash.) began the inning by walking. She was then sacrificed to second by sophomore Amanda Morin (Worcester, Mass.). Senior Pam Sulick (Mission Viejo, Calif.) then drove Proctor home with a RBI double to left-center field. Junior Kristi Stefanoni (Columbus, N.J.) followed with a single, but Sulick was thrown out trying to score from second.
UIC came back to tie the game in the top of the third off LaFogg. A double and single gave the Flames runners on second and third with one out. Brittany Dixon then hit a shot up the middle which grazed off LaFogg's glove and bounced into right-field. One run scored on the play and then the Flames tied it on the next at bat. Sara Hernandez hit a fly ball to right field which was dropped by UMass senior Denise Denis (Middle Grove, N.Y.). One run was able to score on the error. Another single loaded the bases with one out, but LaFogg was able to work out of the jam with a strikeout and ground out.
UMass then came right back in the bottom of the third inning looking to re-take the lead. Molinari and Kelley both walked to start the inning and moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Denis. Junior Lesley Ferrara (Stamford, Conn.) struck out and was unable to bring in the go-ahead run. Proctor then came up and hit a RBI single to left field. Molinari scored but Proctor was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double so UMass took a 3-2 lead into the fourth inning. The Minutewomen added an insurance run in the fifth inning. Molinari singled, stole second base and was driven in on a RBI single by Denis.
LaFogg went the distance allowing one earned run on five hits and a walk. She struck out six batters.
In the second game, the Minutewomen came from behind to knock off Central Michigan, 5-4. The Minutewomen trailed 1-0 but a two-run home run by Denis over the right-field fence in the third inning gave UMass the lead. Molinari, who had walked to lead off the inning, scored in front of Denis. Central Michigan tied the game at 2 in the bottom of inning and the score remained that way until the fifth. Singles by Puglia, Molinari as well as Kelley reaching on an error loaded the bases for UMass with nobody out. Denis then walked to put UMass up 3-2. CMU pitcher Jessica Garvin worked out of the jam, however on a pop-up, ground out and a strikeout.
The Chippewas made UMass pay for not breaking the game open by scratching across two runs in the bottom of the fifth. UMass came right back to take the lead for good by scoring two runs in the top of the sixth after there were two outs. Stefanoni got it started by getting hit by a pitch with one out. She was then forced out as Puglia reached on a fielder's choice. Molinari kept the rally going with a single to centerfield and Puglia kept running and ended up on third base. When the throw went to third, Molinari scampered up to second. That proved big as Kelley reached on an infield single a few pitches later. Molinari never stopped running from second base and was able to score the eventual game-winning run.
Junior Jenna Busa (Lexington, Mass.) pitched the final two innings for UMass to record her first save of the season. LaFogg improved to 6-4 with the win as she gave up two earned runs on eight hits and five walks in five innings. She struck out six. Busa gave up two hits and fanned one in her two innings of work.
The Minutewomen will now face No. 10/9 Baylor Sunday morning in the second semifinal game at 11:00 a.m. The winner advances to the 1:00 p.m. championship game against Oklahoma State.