UMass and Lehigh Win on Day One of the 2006 NCAA Softball Amherst Regional

May 19, 2006

AMHERST, Mass. - After a three hour rain delay, the Amherst Regional finally got under way at 3:05 p.m. as Albany took on UMass. To start the game Brandice Balschmiter walked Maegan Larsen, but UMass catcher KJ Kelley picked her off after a missed bunt attempt by Amber Maisonet and the Great Danes failed to score.

In the bottom of the inning, Amanda Morin led off with a harmless fly out to right field, but was awarded first base because of an illegal pitch by Casey Halloran on a 3-2 count. Whitney Mollica also flew out, but was allowed to remain in the box because of another illegal pitch which also moved Morin to second base. Mollica, however, could not capitalize on the opportunity. In the clean up spot, KJ Kelley hit a screaming line drive over the left field wall on a 1-0 pitch to clear the bases for a quick 2-0 lead. It was Kelley's 41st career homerun, adding to her school record tally. Stacy Cullington followed with a single to keep the inning alive, but UMass could not score.

Balschmiter started the third inning by walking the lead off batter for the third straight time, but a grounder to Kristi Stefanoni began an easy 4-3 double play. For UMass, Candice Molinari led off the bottom of the third with a line drive into the left center gab. Mollica followed with a sacrifice bunt, but was unable to score.

In the fourth, Lauren Proctor reached on a blooper that dropped in between the second basemen and right fielder. Samantha Salato followed with a sacrifice bunt which moved Proctor to second, but again the Minutewomen could not score.

After Proctor's single, Halloran retired the next 9 UMass batters. Not to be outdone, Balschmiter retired the next 12 batters in a row after her third inning lead off walk before walking Maisonet to lead off the seventh. Kelley picked off her second runner at first base when she caught Maisonet leading too far off of first base with the tying run at home plate. Balschmiter quickly forced two groundouts to earn her 12th career shutout and earn the victory in her NCAA Tournament debut while striking out three and walking four. More notably, Balschmiter recorded her 1st career no-hitter in the 2-0 victory for UMass.

In the second game, Lehigh took on Texas A&M. Heavy rains returned moments before the first pitch, but the game started as scheduled. Kate Marvel led off the game with a double. After a strikeout, Amanda Scarborough hit Lauren Haney by a pitch and followed with a wild pitch to give Lehigh second and third with one out. Following a groundout, Julie Sterrett lined a double off of the left field to bring home Marvel and Haney for a 2-0 Lehigh lead.

The Aggies could not get anything started in the bottom of the first after Kate Arico struck out the first two batters of the inning.

Megan Conrad started the second inning with a bunt single, but was erased by a 3-6-4 double play. Arico then walked and advanced to second on a single by Kate Marvel. Two wild pitches later, Arico came around to score.

In the top of the fourth, Scarborough surrendered a hit and a walk, but struck out the side to keep the score 3-0.

With one out in the fifth, Julie Sterrett connected for her second double of the game. Taryn Hanley followed with a single down the right field line to make it first and third. After Megan Conrad's RBI single made it 4-0, A&M brought in Lisa Gorzycki to pitch and escaped with no further damage.

Sharonda McDonald started a one-out sixth inning rally with a bunt single and came around to score on Jamie Hinshaw's RBI double. Megan Gibson then connected for a two-run homerun over the centerfield wall to make it 4-3. Megan Gibson then came in to pitch a scoreless seventh.

In the bottom of the seventh, Lehigh went to Lisa Sweeney to close it out. She walked Jami Lobpries to lead off the inning. Ronda Smith moved Lobpries to second with a sacrifice bunt. But then Sweeney struck out the final two batters to secure the victory for Lehigh.

On Saturday, UMass will play Lehigh at noon in the first game. Texas A&M will play against Albany in game two at 2:30. Game three will be at 5:00 pm between the loser of game one and the winner of game two.



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