Five Homers Lead Softball to 6-3, 9-5 Opening Day Wins Over Daniel Webster

nicole matthews crosses the plate after a home run

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College softball team started its 2017 home schedule on the right foot Sunday afternoon as the Mountaineers swept Daniel Webster College with 6-3 and 9-5 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) wins at Willow Park.

The Opening Day victories were the first for SVC this year and improve the Mountaineers' league record to 2-2 (2-6 overall).

Southern Vermont utilized the long ball well as junior Nicole Matthews (Pittstown, N.Y.) and sophomore Lizzy Bench (St. Petersburgh) combined for five dingers and 12 of SVC's 14 runs batted in.

The Mountaineers are right back in action on Monday with an NECC doubleheader at Wheelock College slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. Daniel Webster next hosts the University of Maine-Farmington on Thursday for a 3 p.m. non-conference twin bill.

GAME 1: Southern Vermont 6 – Daniel Webster 3
SVC put up a quick two runs in the bottom of the first, and the Mountaineers then doubled their lead with another two in the third of game one. Daniel Webster got one back in the fourth before cutting it to a one-run game in the fifth, but Southern Vermont gained some separation with two more in the sixth. DWC loaded the bases with just one out in the seventh—only to strand the tying run at first as the hosts held on to win the opener.

Matthews enjoyed being back on her home diamond as she went 2-3 with two home runs and three RBI's. Bench was also 2-3 with a pair of runs scored—hitting a solo homer from the leadoff spot. Junior starting pitcher Shea Wilson (Mesa, Ariz.) was 2-2 at the plate while scoring two runs and batting in a third to help herself from the box.

Daniel Webster junior second baseman Megan Blongy (Rutland, Vt.) went 3-4 with a run scored while sophomore right fielder Danica Nadeau (Monmouth, Maine) was 2-4 with another run scored. Senior third baseman Skylar Evans (Cranston, R.I.) tallied the team's only RBI with a sacrifice fly, and she also worked a walk in the effort.

Wilson went all seven innings from the circle while notching a season-high eight strikeouts for her first win (1-4) as a Mountaineer; she gave up three runs—all unearned—on nine hits and a walk. Eagle freshman pitcher Amber Roberts (Berlin, N.H.) chalked up four strikeouts in the loss (1-9).

After Daniel Webster's leadoff hitter moved to second on a Mountaineer miscue, Wilson struck out the side to strand the runner. Bench opened the bottom of the third with a single down the line in left, and a pair of wild pitches moved her around 120 feet. That allowed Wilson to tag her sacrifice fly before Matthews followed with a solo shot and her fourth homer as a Mountaineer.

Both teams left a runner at first over the next inning and a half before SVC padded its cushion. Bench led-off the bottom of the third with a blast over the fence in right, and Wilson would turn a one-out double into a run after scoring on a wild pitch.

DWC got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with a single run after getting a pair of two-out singles. A Mountaineer fielding mishap then allowed the lead runner to cross the dish and make it a 4-1 ballgame.

The Eagles cut further into their deficit with two more in the fifth. Nadeau legged out a single back to the circle, and Evans followed with a sacrifice fly to right which scored Nadeau for the 4-3 tally.

Daniel Webster got the tying run into scoring position in the sixth, but Wilson worked out of it with an inning-ending fly out to right. She then got on with a leadoff single in the home half of the frame, and Matthews cranked one just inside the left field foul pole on the ensuing at-bat to give her team some insurance.

A one-out bunt single by Blongy was followed by a Nadeau single up the middle in the seventh, and Evans then worked a walk to load the bases. Wilson was able to get the next batter to swing at strike three, however, before getting the last out of the game on a grounder back her way for SVC's first win of the year.

GAME 2: Southern Vermont 9 – Daniel Webster 5
The Eagles came out strongly in game two with four runs in the top of the first, but SVC answered with a lone run in the bottom of the box and three more in the second to tie it up. The Mountaineers kept the runs coming in the third with five helping them take the lead before a single DWC score in the fourth cut it a four-run game. That would be the final crossing of the plate for both teams as Southern Vermont kept the visitors off the board the rest of the way to finish off the sweep.

Matthews went 3-4 with five RBI's on the back of a grand slam, and freshman first baseman Carly Gillman (Stamford, Conn.) was 2-3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI. Bench registered a two-run homer, and she added another run scored and a third run batted in as freshman designated player Sarah Billow (South Glens Falls, N.Y.) went 2-4 out of the cleanup spot.

Blongy tallied a 2-2 showing in game two with a walk and a run scored, and Evans was 1-3 with a walk and two RBI's. Freshman center fielder Alissa Ouelette (Nashua, N.H.) turned in a 1-2 performance with two walks and a run scored in the effort.

Wilson came out of left field to pitch four innings in relief—picking up her second win (2-4) of the day while striking out a pair. Roberts once again took the loss (1-9) from the circle as she struck out two Mountaineers in the outing.

A pair of walks put two runners on for Nadeau in the top of the first, and she was able to tally an RBI groundout to second for DWC to grab an early advantage. Nadeau came in on an ensuing wild pitch, and another two pitches to the backstop allowed Oullette and Roberts to both come in from third and make it a 4-0 ballgame.

Wilson got aboard with a one-out walk in the bottom of the inning, and she would later score on a Gillman single into the hole at short with two down to get SVC on the scoreboard. Southern Vermont then tied it in the second with three runs on two hits and a pair of Eagle miscues. Bench muscled up for a two-run home run to left with one out, and a Matthews single then allowed Wilson to score from second to make it 4-4.

The Mountaineers struck again in the third with a five-spot for the lead. A fielder's choice by Bench brought Gillman home from third, and a Wilson walk then loaded the pond for Matthews. The SVC captain caught a hold of one for the grand slam—that giving her as many home runs in the day as she had all of last year.

Daniel Webster answered with a lone run in the top of the fourth when Evans ripped a two-out single into right for freshman catcher Katelyn Banta (Oakdale, Calif.) to come home from third and set the score at 9-5.

That would be the last run to score the rest of the way as SVC was able to hold on and close out the sweep. DWC stranded a runner at third in the sixth, and Wilson then got the Eagles to leave a pair aboard in the seventh for her second win of the day.