Wednesday, April 22, 2009

University of Albany Softball Extends Winning Streak to 10 Games in Walk-Off Fashion Against Vermont - UAlbany Sports 2009

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. – Meagan Butsch hit a grand slam to go along with a career-high six-RBI effort in game one and Gina Mason hit a walk-off single in the nightcap in leading the UAlbany softball team to a doubleheader sweep of Vermont by scores of 10-2 and 5-4 at Albany Field on Wednesday, April 22. The Great Danes reached the 30-win mark for the eighth straight season and ended the day just half a game behind league-leading Stony Brook in the America East Conference standings.

In game one, Butsch hit a two-run homer to right center which gave UAlbany a 2-0 advantage. Vermont (6-33, AE 3-12) battled back to tie the score on a double by Rebecca Heimbigner in the second and a two-bagger by Laura Stagliano in the third.

UAlbany broke the tie by plating three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Mason hit a two-run blast over the fence in right to put the Great Danes ahead for good before Bill smacked a double down the left field line. An RBI double by Mason in the fourth made it a four-run game, and Butsch’s grand slam on a 3-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the fifth ended the opener due to the eight-run rule.

UAlbany’s Leah McIntosh improved to 17-1 this season with the victory in the circle. She surrendered five hits and two runs which were earned while fanning six hitters. Vermont’s Jocelyn Abaray dropped to 3-11 with the loss after giving up six hits and four runs which were all earned in two innings. Caitlin Monahan pitched the final 2.2 innings, surrendering six runs which were earned and seven hits.

Vermont jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the nightcap, which was counted as a non-conference game. After Andrianna Walraven plated the first run for the Great Danes on a fielder’s choice play in the bottom of the third, the Catamounts regained their three-run lead when Alison Daggett homered down the left field line to lead off the fourth. UAlbany then made it a one-run game when Nicole Kothe hit a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth with one out.

Great Dane pitcher Marissa Powell hurled a scoreless sixth, but it was a key play by the UAlbany infield defensively which kept the Catamounts off the scoreboard. Vermont attempted to score Kellin Haley from third on a squeeze play with only one out. Katherine Sisson laid the ball down in front of Butsch, and the senior flipped an off-balance throw to Kat Smith who tagged out Haley. Bree Cassidy grounded out on the next play to the end frame.

“I have to give the credit to my coach on that play,” said Butsch. “She saw it coming and read what the runner was doing. Coach (Cannata) told me to scoot up, watch for the squeeze and it worked out. It was also a great catch by Kat (Smith).”

Powell retired the side in the seventh to keep the battle a one-run contest before the Great Danes had one last chance to score and at least extend the game. With one out, Bailey Van Deest came through as a pinch hitter in the clutch situation by clubbing the first home run of her career to tie the game at four and eventually force extras.

“I knew their pitcher threw a lot of curve balls, and that was what I was looking for,” said Van Deest, who took a curve ball that stayed in front of the plate over the fence in left. “Hitting home runs is not something I am used to, so I was just trying to do something to get on base and avoid popping up. Fortunately, it worked out for me.”

Vermont threatened to score in the top of the eighth by loading the bases with only one out. However, Powell struck out of the next two batters to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the inning, Butsch blooped a single that barely stayed fair to get things going with one down. She advanced to second on a passed ball when the next batter struck out, and Mason followed up with a walk-off hit to right field which plated Butsch for the game-winning run.

“Our team shows a lot of character, and they never give up,” said head coach Chris Cannata after the team ended the afternoon on its longest winning streak since the 2005 season. “We have been getting great pitching, and have also been fortunate enough to win the close ones.”

UAlbany’s Powell improved to 13-9 overall with the win. She gave up four runs (three earned) and nine hits in eight innings while fanning seven and issuing just one walk. Vermont’s Daggett fell to 2-7 in the losing effort. She gave up nine hits, five runs (three earned) and struck out three.

UAlbany (30-10, AE 10-3) will head to Maine for a three-game series over the weekend. The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday, April 25 before playing a single game at noon on Sunday, April 26.

Vermont 011 00 2 5 0
UAlbany 203 14 10 13 1

UAlbany: Leah McIntosh and Kat Smith. Vermont: Jocelyn Abaray and Rachelle Boone.

Vermont (6-33. AE 3-12) 300 100 00 4 9 2
UAlbany (30-10, AE 10-3)001 020 11 5 9 1

UAlbany: Marissa Powell and Kat Smith. Vermont: Caitlin Monahan and Rachelle Boone.

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