River Hawks Defeat UAlbany, 5-2, in Extras to Advance to Title Game
VESTAL, N.Y. – The No. 2 seeded UMass Lowell softball team (21-26) broke open a scoreless game with five runs in the top of the eighth to defeat No. 1 UAlbany (29-14) in the America East Championship winners’ bracket final on Friday afternoon.
With the victory, the River Hawks continue their historic run, securing a spot in the title game of the conference tournament. The victory also marked the squad’s 21st of the season, matching a Division I program best.
“We knew this game was going to be very important because the winner would be set up for a little bit better opportunity tomorrow,” said Head Coach Danielle Henderson. “I was feeling good because we had three close games with Albany during the regular season when they swept us, and I felt the team wasn’t going to let that happen again today.”
After seven complete innings of scoreless action, sophomore Marianne Sparacia (Spring Hill, Fla.) reached on an error to lead off the eighth. Classmate Courtney Cashman (Danvers, Mass.) stepped up next and took advantage of the situation, knocking her second double of the game to center to plate the first run of the day. The River Hawks rallied from there, as freshman Sara Siteman (Hudson, N.H.) followed with a two-run home run before seniors Samantha McQueen (Ewing, N.J.) and Madison Alcorn (Lowell, Mass.) added RBI later in the same at-bat to give their squad a five-run buffer.
The Great Danes did not go easily, though, scoring two runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning and bringing the tying run to the plate. However, relief pitcher Lovina Capria (Deltona, Fla.) forced a groundout to seal the 5-2 victory.
Just as in the regular-season series, this contest between the River Hawks and Great Danes started as a defensive battle, as both sides combined for six runners left on base through the first two complete innings. UAlbany would even load the bases in the bottom of the second, but junior Kaysee Talcik (Shelton, Conn.) pitched her way out of the jam to keep the board even.
The Great Danes threatened once again in the bottom of the third, putting two runners on, although a groundout to Sparacia extinguished the opportunity. UMass Lowell earned two base runners of its own in the fourth and one more in the fifth, but the team would not break up the no-hitter until the top of the sixth when Cashman roped a two-bagger to right. However, UAlbany’s defense stayed sharp and turned a good double play to force the deadlock into the final inning of regulation.
Talcik hurled seven innings of scoreless work, allowing just five hits, to match a career-high eight wins this season.
The River Hawks and Great Danes will square off once again in the championship game tomorrow, May 12, beginning at 12 p.m.
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