Softball's Regular Season NEWMAC Title Hopes Extinguished in Sweep at MIT

Katie Bumila

Cambridge, MA --- MIT received strong pitching and a bit of timely hitting to win both games against visiting WPI in a NEWMAC doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Briggs Field. The host Engineers took game one, 4-2, in extra innings before winning the second, 1-0, behind seven shutout innings from freshman Ellie Fodor (Trenton, MI.) 

With the wins, MIT improves to 11-20 overall and, at 7-9, post the second-highest conference win total in program history. WPI falls to 24-14 overall and 9-7 in league play.  Worcester's Engineers finish the regular season tied for fourth place with Wheaton and will face the Lyons in a first round NEWMAC Tournament game on Tuesday at 2:30pm at top-seeded Springfield. 

Both teams' pitching staffs worked around trouble throughout game one, as they combined to strand 24 runners on base in the game. WPI left the bases loaded in three separate innings, including the eighth, when the Engineers stranded the tying run at second. 

MIT freshman starter Karly McLaughlin (Edwardsville, IL) gave herself a 1-0 lead with an RBI-single in the first, scoring senior Nydia Ruleman (Germantown, TN) and then worked out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom half of the frame with a strikeout and a pair of short flyouts. 

WPI evened the score in the second, as Nicole McDonough (Abington, MA) drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in Amanda Pierce (Ware, MA). McLaughlin was able to limit the damage however, getting Erin Beaulieu (Bethany, CT) to fly out to end the threat. 

The hosts had their own chance to score in the fourth inning, loading the bases with a pair of singles and a WPI error. However, freshman Sarah Van Belleghem (Los Gatos, CA) was erased at home on a nice play by shortstop Lauren DiFelice (Acushnet, MA) and Ruleman struck out for the third out. 

Van Belleghem would drive in the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth, reaching on a fielder's choice as junior Anna Christensen (Vernon Hills, IL) beat the throw home to put MIT on top 2-1. 

It appeared the lead would hold up, as senior Jessica Iacobucci (Phoenixville, PA) was solid in relief of McLaughlin. However, WPI tied things back in the sixth on a two-out run-scoring single by Katie Bumila (Raynham, MA) that plated Juliana Fekete (Belgrade, ME) who had doubled a hitter earlier. Neither team was able to generate anything in the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.  

With junior Leah Alpert (Needham, MA) placed on second to start the eighth, Van Belleghem hit a slow roller to the third baseman, who threw the ball away, allowing Alpert to come home and Van Belleghem to move into scoring position. Senior Katie Harrington (Lexington, KY) then delivered a two-out RBI to provide the Cardinal and Gray with an insurance run. 

WPI would threaten in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases once again with a pair of singles by Janelle MacLaughlin (Lancaster, MA) and Allie Roche (Chelmsford, MA). That would be the end of the rally however, as Christensen made a great play at third to start the 5-2-3 double-play and Iacobucci struck out McDonough to end it. 

Iacobucci earned the win (4-9), tossing six innings in relief, giving up one run on six hits while striking out seven. Allie Hardy (West Townsend, MA) took the loss in relief to fall to 6-8 on the season, allowing a pair of unearned runs on just two hits and striking out a pair. Christa Coscia (Lakeville, MA) yielded just one earned run over the first three innings. 

MIT struck first in game two, as McLaughlin hit a one-out single in the fourth and scored after back-to-back errors by the visiting Engineers. WPI starter, Erin Flaherty (Stoughton, MA), who started the game by setting down the first seven Tech batters, was charged with the first error after her errant throw sailed wide of first-base on a sacrifice attempt. McLaughlin was able to score what would prove to be the winning run from third when DiFelice was unable to handle Alpert's grounder at short. Flaherty would limit the damage, getting out of the jam with a pair of groundouts, to keep the deficit at one. 

That would be all Fodor needed, however, as she worked around some trouble in the second, third and fifth innings. After a pair of base-hits put runners at second and third in the second, Fodor struck out Pierce and MacLaughlin to end the threat. A pair of singles by Fekete and Bumila put runners and first and second in the third inning, but Fodor erased Fekete at third on a fielder's choice and got DiFelice to strike out looking. Fodor also worked around a base-hit and an error in the fifth to keep things scoreless. 

Fodor did not allow a hit in the sixth or seventh innings to secure her third shutout win of the season and improve to 6-8 on her rookie campaign. Flaherty (11-4) was the hard-luck loser for WPI, giving up just three hits and one unearned run over seven innings with seven strikeouts. 

At 7-9 in league play, MIT finished just one game out of the sixth and final playoff spot. The Cardinal and Gray will wrap up its season with a non-conference doubleheader at home against Salve Regina University on Thursday, April 26 at 3pm. 

Release Courtesy MIT Sports Information