Seahawks' season ends with 2-0 loss to Sharks
NEWPORT, R.I. – The seventh-seeded Simmons College softball team scored two unearned runs in the top of the seventh to upset #2 Salve Regina University by a score of 2-0 during the opening round of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship tournament at Toppa Field on Friday night. With the loss, the Seahawks season comes to an end with an overall mark of 24-17. The Sharks improve to 25-16 on the year and advance to the double-elimination phase of the tournament this Saturday at Brandeis University.
Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Pitcher of the Year Jen Cruver (North Haven, Conn.) from Salve Regina and Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Rookie of the Year Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) from Simmons locked up in an epic pitching duel. The two standout hurlers matched each other pitch-for-pitch through the first six scoreless frames.
The Sharks threatened in the top of the third inning when freshman Victoria Luongo (Medford, Mass.) smacked a leadoff double and then advanced to third on a ground out to the right side. It appeared the Sharks were destined to score when the following batter laced a line drive to the right side. However, first baseman Jillian Quintana (Denver, Colo.) stabbed the liner and then alertly threw across the diamond to double-up the runner at third, quelling the threat in the process.
In the top of the seventh, the Sharks got the leadoff hitter aboard when sophomore Christina Mulcahy (Cambridge, Mass.) beat out a grounder to short. The next batter laid down a sacrifice bunt, but an errant throw by the Seahawks put runners on second and third with nobody out. Luongo followed with a fly ball to center field which Salve Regina sophomore Marissa Simpson (Brimfield, Mass.) reeled in before firing a strike to the plate to keep the runners from advancing. Now with one out and the Seahawk infield playing back, junior Cailin Pagel (Dorchester, Mass.) hit a grounder to the right side to drive home Mulcahy with the game's first run. Freshman Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) then legged-out a triple to right center field, scoring junior Ari King (Westford, Mass.) to put the Sharks on top 2-0.
Backhaus retired the Seahawks in order in the bottom of the seventh to complete the 2-0 victory for the Sharks. Backhaus, who entered the contest ranked fourth in the nation in shutouts, allowed just two hits while striking out nine, earning her 10th shutout of the season and improving her record to 14-8.
Cruver took the tough-luck loss for the Seahawks despite not allowing an earned run on the night, completing her impressive season with a record of 23-17.
The Sharks will advance to play #3 Endicott College on Saturday at Brandeis University.