Softball Wins Blue & Gold Coca-Cola Classic
March 14, 2004
MIAMI, Fla. - Junior Pam Sulick (Mission Viejo, Calif.) drove in two runs with a single to center field to give the University of Massachusetts softball team (9-11) a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Florida International (11-15) this afternoon in the championship game of the Blue & Gold Coca-Cola Classic. FIU, down 2-0, scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the 3-2 lead into the final inning.
In the first inning, junior Hilary Puglia (Stoneham, Mass.) led off the game with a single up the middle, but was unable to get past second base. She moved to second on a groundout by freshman Candice Molinari (Glendora, Calif.), but sophomore Katie Jo Kelley (Rainier, Ore.) and senior Jamie Cahalan (Mesa, Ariz.) both popped out in the infield to end the inning.
UMass junior pitcher Kelli Arnold (Kalama, Wash.) got into a bit of the jam in the bottom of the third. She allowed a one-out double and after a two-out walk and a stolen base, FIU had runners at second and third with two outs. Arnold got out of it by getting Kristen Perry to fly out to Molinari in left.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Minutewomen broke into the scoring column. Cahalan started it with a a one-out single to left. Two batters later, she scored from first base when Sulick ripped a double down the left-field line giving Massachusetts the 1-0 lead.
UMass then added another run in the top of the fifth. Kelley hit a RBI single to left field which scored senior Aisha Franke (Philadelphia, Pa.). Franke had led off the inning with an infield single. UMass loaded the bases with one out, but were unable to score any more runs.
In the bottom of the fifth Arnold gave up a leadoff double but worked out of the inning without letting the runner advance past second base. For the second straight day, however, FIU took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. The first two Golden Panthers reached via a walk and an error to knock Arnold out of the game. Sophomore Jenna Busa (Lexington, Mass.) came in and gave up three unearned runs. One scored on an error and two more were driven in with a double. Busa then settled down to retire the next three batters, but the damage had been done.
In its final at bat, Massachusetts tried to mount a late-inning come-back. Cahalan got on courtesy of a one-out single and then moved to second base via a wild pitch. She then moved to third when sophomore Lesley Ferrara (Stamford, Conn.) singled to left field. Pinch runner Nicole Wilson (Gaithersburg, Md.) then stole second base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Sulick then followed with a single up the middle. The ball got by the FIU centerfielder and two runs were able to score.
Busa then retired FIU in the bottom of the seventh to pick up her third win of the tournament. Kelley was named the tournament MVP. She batted .429 with a home run and four RBI this weekend. Arnold went five-plus innings allowing four hits and two walks. She fanned four batters. Busa worked 2.0 innings and gave up two hits.
Massachusetts will now enjoy a 10-day break before returning to action on March 24, 2004. The Minutewomen will travel across the Commonwealth to face Boston University for a single game. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. The home opener at the UMass Softball Complex will be the following day, March 25, against Vermont. It will be a doubleheader with first pitch in game one set for 2:00 p.m. UMass currently boasts the nation's longest home winning streak having won 58 straight games.