BENNINGTON, Vt. — Southern Vermont College and Bay Path University split a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) softball doubleheader Thursday afternoon, each team winning a game in frigid temperatures during SVC's home opener at Willow Park.
The Mountaineers held on for a 3-2 win in the first contest before BPU bounced back for a 9-2 victory in the day-cap.
Southern Vermont (3-8, 1-5 NECC) is next set to host Wheelock College on Saturday for an NECC doubleheader starting at 10 a.m. while Bay Path (2-9, 1-1 NECC) hosts Lesley University on Friday for a Conference twin bill set to begin at 3:30 p.m.
GAME 1: Southern Vermont 3, Bay Path 2
SVC tacked up three runs in its first trip to the plate before the Wildcats cut into the lead with a pair in the fourth. Neither team could cross the dish the rest of the way as the Mountaineers held on for their first league win of the season.
Southern Vermont senior shortstop Shelby Jones (Hoosick Falls, N.Y.) went 1-3 at the dish with an RBI and a run scored, her hit being a double. Senior third baseman Brianne Nichols (Albany, N.Y.) was 2-3 with a run batted in while junior second baseman Rachel Robtoy (Baltic, Conn.) was also 2-3, scoring a run in the victory. Senior right-handed pitcher Emily Fleming (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) went 2-3 with the stick, adding an RBI and a stolen base to her line.
Fleming picked up her second win from the circle (2-5), giving up just one earned run on six hits in her seven innings on the rubber; the senior hurler struck out a career-high 11 batters in the opener and didn't give up a single walk. Bay Path freshman righty Sarah Paskiewicz (Ansonia, Conn.) suffered the loss (0-4) after giving up the three runs in six innings of work, striking out three on the day.
Wildcat junior left fielder Casey Botelho (Providence, R.I.) went 2-3 at the plate while scoring a run, tallying a double in the effort. Freshman shortstop Lauren Vallee (Bristol, Conn.) was 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored, her hit also being a double, while three other players added a 1-3 showing for the visitors.
After the SVC infield turned a double play to end the top of the first, Southern Vermont chalked up its three runs of the game in the bottom of the inning. The first two Mountaineers to the plate singled through the right side before Nichols registered a base hit up the middle to score senior center fielder Erika Garay (Walnut, Calif.). The hits continued as Jones raked a two-run double to the gap in right center, and Fleming followed with a single down the line in left to plate Jones and make it a 3-0 SVC advantage.
Fleming retired six of the next seven batters she faced, five of those outs being by way of the K. The Mountaineers were able to get runners aboard in both the second and third innings, but none of them came around to score as Bay Path kept the deficit intact. The Wildcats then trimmed the lead down to one in the top of the fourth with a pair of runs. A lead-off double to left center preceded Vallee ripping another double to the outfield, bringing the first BPU run home. An SVC outfield miscue allowed the second Wildcat to cross the plate and the batter to move to third, still with no outs, but Fleming worked herself out of it to maintain the upper hand.
The bottom of the fourth and fifth saw Southern Vermont get a duck on the pond, but Bay Path turned a double play in each inning to prevent SVC from padding its lead. Consecutive BPU singles in the sixth put a pair on with two outs, only to have Fleming recorded her eighth strikeout of the day to end the frame. After a third Wildcat double play ended the bottom of the sixth, Fleming returned to the circle and put the game away with three straight strikeouts for the win.
GAME 2: Bay Path 9, Southern Vermont 2
The second game of the day was scoreless until the third when Bay Path went on top with four runs in the visitor's half of the inning. SVC then got one of its own in the bottom of the box to make it a 4-1 Wildcat edge. BPU added two in the fifth and another in the sixth before going up 9-1 with a two-run homer in the seventh. Southern Vermont got a lone run in the bottom of the seventh, but it would not be enough as the Wildcats finished the split.
Garay was 2-4 for the Mountaineers out of the lead-off spot, knocking in two runs in the contest. Jones and Fleming were both 1-3 while senior left fielder Michelle Flores (Pico Rivera, Calif.) turned a pair of walks into both SVC runs.
Botelho went 2-4 with a run batted in and another scored, and freshman third baseman Gillian Flynn (Windsor, Conn.) was 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Senior catcher Nicole Ogden (Springfield, Mass.) had a 1-2 showing at the dish with a walk, her hit being the two-run Bay Path home run, and junior Paige Marshall (New Britain, Conn.) was 2-4 with an RBI.
Wildcat junior right-hander Maria Carta (Middletown, Conn.) went all seven innings for the win from the circle (2-3), giving up no earned runs on just four hits while striking out four Mountaineers. SVC senior righty Hayley McDonald (Latham, N.Y.) took the loss (0-3) despite also giving up no earned runs; she struck out three batters in her five innings with the ball.
Both teams went down in order in the first, and the only runner to reach from either side in the second was a Wildcat on a hit by pitch. Bay Path then broke the scoreless tie in the third with some help from SVC fielding mishaps. With runners on first and second, Botelho knocked a double out to left center to score the first BPU run. A wild pitch allowed the second run to cross the plate from third before Botelho came around to score on a Flynn single back up the middle. Bay Path notched its final tally of the frame when it executed a double steal with runners at the corners, Vallee scoring as the throw went down to second.
A lead-off walk to Flores would come back to hurt the Wildcats in the bottom of the third after she moved up to second on a passed ball. Carta induced a pair of outs before Garay came through with a clutch RBI single down the line in right, making it 4-1 in favor of the visitors.
Neither side got much going in the fourth, but Bay Path extended its lead in the fifth with a pair of two-out runs. The Wildcats appeared to score a run when a fly out to center saw Botelho tag-up and cross from third, but she was deemed to have left early upon appeal to negate the score. The next batter would double to center, however, for Vallee to come in and make it 5-1. After Ogden walked, Marshall singled up the middle to get the runners on the move; as the throw from center came home, Jones caught the ball and fired to Nichols at third in time to get Ogden. The tag-out came after Flynn had touched the dish, sending the game to the bottom of the fifth with BPU up 6-1.
The Wildcats tacked up a lone run in the sixth with a sacrifice fly to left, and they padded the cushion in the seventh with Ogden's first dinger of the season. In the bottom of the inning, Southern Vermont saw another Flores lead-off walk come around to score as Garay beat out a roller to second for the RBI, but Carta got the final out of the day on a grounder to short for the Bay Path victory.