La Verne, CA --- The WPI softball team earned a split in its season opening doubleheader with La Verne on Monday, March 9. After a thrilling extra inning contest in game one of the day that fell in favor of the Leopards, WPI bounded back with a 12-2 5-inning thrashing of La Verne to finish out the day.
The Engineers combined for 14 hits in game two alone, and 19 hits on the day led by a 3-for-4 Game 2 effort from Lindsay Ambrosino (Chelmsford, MA) that featured a double and a triple, while Kaitlyn Hess (Milford, NH) was 4-for-6 with a walk, three stolen bases, two RBIs and three runs scored in the outing.
Katie Martin (Bedford, NH) handled pitching duties for the entirety of the extra inning game allowing six hits and four earned runs in the 5-4 loss while striking out nine. Jess Evans (Grafton, MA) and Sophia Togneri (Hudson, MA) combined for the game two victory as Tognari came on and pitched 3.2 shutout innings of relief in the win allowing just one hit and striking out five.
The Engineers got on the board first in the top of the first as leadoff batter Cassie Graca (Somerset, MA) immediately got on board with a single to right center. She stole second, moved up to third on a sac bunt by Marissa Gonzales (Oakley, CA) and scored on a double to right center by Caraline Wood (Averill Park, NY) to get the 1-0 lead.
La Verne evened the score in the bottom half of the inning, once again utilizing a double to right center where the score remained until the top of the third. The Engineers went to work in the top half of the frame as Graca started things off once again, this time with a triple down the right field line, scoring on a ground out to second by Gonzales to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
But in the bottom of the fourth, La Verne gained a 3-2 advantage off of a Taylor Gray solo shot and later Natalia Aguilera walked, stole second and came around to score on a double.
In the next half inning, the Crimson and Gray made it three-all as made the most of a free pass, stealing second and then moving up to third on a wild pitch. After Brittany Bolster (North Kingstown, RI) walked and Alicia Salvalzo (Hudson, NH) took over on the basepaths for her, she took off for second prompting an errant throw from the La Verne catcher and allowing Wood to scamper home unscathed to make it 3-3.
The Engineers gained a 4-3 advantage in the top of the sixth when Hess started the inning off with a single up the middle, adding another steal to the total taking second, and scoring after a throwing error by the Leopards third baseman, but once again La Verne was able to even the score and ultimately force extra innings and ultimately take the first game of the doubleheader on a walkoff solo shot to open the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Engineers' bats came alive in game two en route to the run rule victory. Behind 3.2 shutout innings of relief from Togneri, WPI quickly regained the lead and raced to the victory.
After La Verne took a 2-1 lead in the second inning, WPI bounced back in the top of the third with a four-run effort utilizing some small ball followed by some big blasts from Bolster and Hess to end the frame.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Engineers batted around as the offense continued when the Crimson and Gray put together a six-run outpouring, started off with a single to right field from Hailey McCasland (Wrentham, MA) and highlighted by a three-run blast from Bolster.
WPI added an insurance run in the top of the fifth thanks to a double to right center from Ambrosino en route to the 12-2 victory.
The Engineers are back at it on Wednesday, March 11 with another doubleheader this time at Occidental with first pitch slated for 4pm eastern. The games were originally scheduled for Tuesday but shifted to Wednesday due to forecasted rain.