Minutewomen Drop 15-Inning Heartbreaker To Washington In Regional Final, 6-1
May 18, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. - Despite a gutsy effort from the entire UMass softball team, the Minutewomen fell just short in dropping a 15-inning classic to Washington, 6-1, in the decisive game of the NCAA Amherst Regional, a contest that began on Sunday night and finished after 1 a.m. on Monday morning. The 15 innings, which took 5:13 to play, marked the longest game in program history. Both pitchers hurled remarkable complete games, this after UMass forced a decisive game via a 5-1 victory earlier Sunday. Samantha Salato accounted for UMass' only run with a solo home run in the fourth inning. The Minutewomen complete the season 41-10 while Washington advances to face #14 Georgia Tech in the Super Regionals.
The pitchers were the story of the day. After Balschmiter allowed leadoff hitter Ashley Charters to score, she shut down the Huskies until the 15th inning. In those 15 frames, she struck out 14 while expending 243 pitches. Danielle Lawrie's final line stood at 15 innings pitched allowing seven hits and only one run with 23 strikeouts. She had to hurl 251 pitches, this after 144 in the first game of the day.
UMass' last extra inning game in the NCAA Tournament was on May 23, 1992, a 2-1 win in the College World Series against Long Beach. The previous longest game in program history was 14 innings on Apr. 23, 1994 against Princeton, a 3-2 Minutewomen victory.
Kyllie Magill was the only UMass player to finish with multiple hits, going 2-for-5. Salato's home run was her 19th of the season to extend her own single-season record. It was her second long ball of the day and third of the weekend's action.
Charters led off the game with a triple to left-center field and scored on a Jennifer Salling sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 in favor of Washington. Salling's fly ball would have been a home run, but Davina Hernandez got back to the wall in time to make the catch.
The Minutewomen put runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the second, but Lawrie bounced back with three straight strikeouts of Jessica Serio, Hernandez, and Carly Normandin to get out of the jam unscathed.
Just as she did in the first game of the day, Salato homered on the first pitch of the fourth inning to pull UMass even. This time, the long ball went to right field and tied the score at one.
Both pitchers continued to get themselves in and out of trouble through the proceeding innings. A long fly ball by Reeves in the eighth inning looked to be going over the right field wall, but Amanda Fleischman got back to make the grab and extend the game.
For the second straight inning, Washington staged a threat, and this time it was a sensational ninth inning play by Magill to keep the score tied at one. Salling led off the inning with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a Lawrie fly ball. Morgan Stuart then hit a hot shot to the freshman second baseman, who made a perfect throw to the catcher. Serio applied the tag on Salling to finish the bang-bang play for the inning's second out. Lauren Greer then flew to right to end the threat.
It was déjà vu in the 10th inning when Ashlyn Watson led off with a single, then was run for by Kimi Pohlman who subsequently stole second base. After advancing to third on a passed ball, she was gunned down on a perfect throw to the plate by shortstop Whitney Williams. Serio impressively blocked the plate and held onto the ball after a collision at the plate.
The Minutewomen staged a threat in the 11th when Katie Bettencourt picked up her first collegiate hit. Magill drew a walk, but Lawrie came back with strikeouts of Serio and Hernandez to keep the score at 1-1.
Both pitchers settled in through the 12th, 13th, and 14th innings. Balschmiter retired the Huskies in order in those frames and had a string of retiring 12 straight batters which started in the 11th and ended with an Alicia Blake single in the 15th.
The Huskies finally broke through with five runs in the 15th on six hits to take a 6-1 advantage. After Blake's single, Niki Williams and Charters did the same to load the bases with one out. Balschmiter came back to strike out Bailey Stenson looking, but Salling hit a two-out chopper to third base. Mollica glanced at second, opting to fire to first, but Salling beat the throw, scoring pinch runner Dani Stuart with the go-ahead run. Lawrie and Morgan Stuart then followed with two-run singles to cap off the five run inning.
The Minutewomen put two runners on base in the bottom of the inning, but could not score, good for the 6-1 final.
A tremendous senior class ended their career amongst the UMass all-time leaders. Mollica finished as one of the best hitters in program history, highlighted by her record 156 RBIs. Salato stands second on the all-time list with 32 home runs after she shattered the single season record this year with 19 long balls. Balschmiter finished as the career wins leader (126) and second in career strikeouts (1218).
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