River Hawks Fall to UAlbany Twice in America East Championship
VESTAL, N.Y. – The No. 2 seeded UMass Lowell softball team (21-28) dropped a pair of decisions against No. 1 UAlbany (32-14) in the final games of the 2018 America East Championship on Sunday.
The Great Danes came from behind late in game one against the River Hawks to earn a 4-3 decision and force the if necessary game for the double-elimination tournament. UMass Lowell then fell, 4-1, in game two, as UAlbany clinched its second straight America East Championship.
“This was a heartbreaker,” said Head Coach Danielle Henderson. “The team played hard and I wish our seniors would have gotten to go to regionals. I think the team will remember how this felt and come back stronger next year.”
The River Hawks finished as the conference tournament runners-up, capping off a strong showing in their first year of post-season eligibility at the Division I level. During the week, the squad became the first women’s team from UMass Lowell to earn a DI post-season victory, in addition to becoming just the second team at the university to appear in the America East title game after men’s soccer did so last fall.
Senior Madison Alcorn (Lowell, Mass.) led the River Hawks with four hits (.500), including two doubles. Four River Hawks contributed two hits apiece, paced by freshman Maria Moccio (Feeding Hills, Mass.), who tallied a team-high three RBI. Sophomore Courtney Cashman (Danvers, Mass.) added a double on the day to move into second place on the school’s single-season record list with 18. Junior pitcher Kaysee Talcik (Shelton, Conn.) allowed just three hits with four strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Talcik was named to the league’s All-Championship Team after posting a 0.67 ERA with nine strikeouts in 21 innings. She was joined by Cashman and senior Vanessa Cooper (Pleasant Gap, Pa.).
The River Hawks broke open the scoring in the top of the second in game one when redshirt-sophomore Casey Harding(Cheshire, Conn.) walked and Cooper followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners for Moccio, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center, giving her squad a 1-0 edge.
Both sides were retired in order in the third, but the River Hawks were able to extend their margin to 3-0 in the fourth, as Moccio stepped in with the bases loaded and turned an eight-pitch at-bat into a two-run single up the middle.
UAlbany got one run back in the home half of the inning, though, taking advantage of an overthrow. The difference maker came in the sixth in the form of a three-run home run by Sarah Petzold that put her team in front for good, 4-3.
The Great Danes carried the momentum in the first inning of the decisive game by loading the bases, although Talcik forced a groundout to extinguish the opportunity and keep the game scoreless.
Moccio and sophomore Marianne Sparacia (Spring Hill, Fla.) registered the visitors’ first hits of that contest with infield singles in the top of the second and third, respectively, but the scoreless duel continued until the home half of the third when the Great Danes used back-to-back sacrifice flies to pull in front, 2-0.
Freshman Sara Siteman (Hudson, N.H.) drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fifth to cut the difference to 2-1. However, Petzold would prove crucial once again, this time sending a two-run two-bagger to center to help UAlbany seal the 4-1 outcome.