Graca and Gonzales Help Guide Softball in NEWMAC Sweep of Springfield

Ama Biney

WORCESTER – Sophomore Cassie Graca's (Somerset, MA) early sacrifice fly in game one and freshman Marissa Gonzales' (Oakley, CA) RBI single in the third of game two proved to be the difference as WPI took two from Springfield, 4-1 and 7-6, in a NEWMAC Softball doubleheader Friday night on Rooftop Field.

The Engineers improve to 13-5 overall and 3-1 in conference play while the Pride slip to 12-4 following their first two NEWMAC games of the season.

Senior Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) reached third on a bunt by Gonzales and scored on a throw as part of the same play. Graca later lifted a sacrifice fly to left for the 2-0 lead after one inning. Biney scored again, this time with a solo blast to center in the home half of the second.

Springfield senior Kirsten Drobiak (Griswold, CT) put the Pride on the board with a sacrifice fly in the top of the third. Senior RiAnna May (Westminster, CO) then countered with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1 heading into the fourth. WPI stranded three runners in the fourth, as did Springfield in the fifth.

WPI senior Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, MA) allowed one run on six hits and three walks, and struck out three in the complete-game victory. Senior Talia Loda (East Haven, CT) yielded three earned on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts for Springfield.

Biney was 3-for-4 with a home run, a stolen base, an RBI and a two runs scored. Junior Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, NH) doubled while Gonzales and senior Nina Murphy-Cook (Roseville, CA) each stole a base. Senior Rachel Ball (Coventry, RI) went 2-for-3 for the guests.

Drobiak used a two-out home run to left to put the Pride on the board first in the nightcap. LeClaire evened the contest with an RBI single through the right side of the infield before an out was recorded in the bottom of the first. May followed with a run-producing hit up the middle. Graca added another through the left side. Freshman Skylar O'Connell (North Attleboro, MA) later chased Biney home with an infield ground out for the 4-1 lead.

Loda roped a hit to left to plate the Springfield run of the game in the top of the second. WPI pushed three across in the bottom of the third as Graca and O'Connell clubbed RBI doubles and Gonzales plated another with a hit to shallow left field. The Engineers continued to enjoy the 7-2 advantage after 4 1/2.

Springfield made it 7-5 in the sixth thanks to a two-run homer by junior Shelby Allen (Oakland, NJ) and a wild pitch that allowed sophomore Alexyss Conley (Plymouth, MA) to score. Conley later cut the deficit to one in the seventh with a hit down the third base line. The bases were then loaded but a liner to right ended the game.

May (double, triple) and Graca (double) each batted 3-for-4 and combined for three RBI and three runs scored. Gonzales and senior Katie Chagami (Waipahu, HI) collected a pair of hits and O'Connell (double) drove in a pair. Freshman Kaitlyn Hess (Milford, NH) held on for the win in her second start of the season while classmate Nicole Kuberka (Los Angeles, CA) earned the save. Murphy-Cook added two stolen bases to her collection and Chagami chipped in with one.

Junior Shelby Allen (Oakland, NJ) was 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored at the plate and went the distance in the circle for Springfield. Drobiak (double, HR), Conley and sophomore Meghan Sastram (Oxford, CT) also recorded a pair of hits in the game.

The Engineers host Wheaton at noon and the Pride are at Emerson for a 2:30 start tomorrow.