WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Suffolk softball used small ball to overcome a four-run deficit and defeat the University of New England, 8-6, Sunday morning at Diamond Plex at THE Spring Games.
SCORE: Suffolk 8 | University of New England 6
RECORDS: Suffolk (3-0) | University of New England (0-1)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Caitlin Murphy's patience at the plate paid off as Suffolk's lead-off hitter turned a 3-2 count into a base runner on a walk. The freshman centerfield turned on her wheels when Grace Boehler put down a bunt to advance to third. A long single to left field off Jaclyn Flint's bat allowed Murphy to strut in and break open the scoring.
An inning and a half later the Nor'Easters leveled the playing field on a two-out Rams' error. With a runner on third, Hannah Baldyga placed a bunt into play and Flint picked up the ball, but over threw Suffolk's first baseman Kelly Keane allowing the tying run to score.
Suffolk got in a sticky situation in the bottom of the third as UNE put all the ducks in the pond on a pair of walks sandwiched around its own throwing error. Back-to-back base flipped the switch in the Nor'Easters favor, who tacked on two more runs after the Rams' brought Constance Phelan in to throw to put the blue-and-gold in a 5-1 hole.
The Rams remained in the four-run hole until they made moves in the top of the fifth. The rally started when McKenzie McGrath drew a walk and Hailey Cockroft knocked a base hit to left field. Two outs later, Murphy produced the first extra base of her career to clear the bags and put Suffolk back in the ball game. Flint kept the inning alive and drew the blue-and-gold even closer with a single through the left side to cut Suffolk's deficit to one, 5-4.
UNE held off Suffolk's comeback in the sixth as it turned a double play to cling to the lead.
Things changed in the seventh in the Rams' favor thanks to small ball and Nor'Easter errors. Alexis Bonilla drew a walk to lead off and Phelan out ran a throw on a pun to move Brianna Loughlin over, who took Bonilla's place on the bags. A bobble by UNE's first baseman on Murphy's sac bunt attempt played in Suffolk's favor and allowed the tying run to score.
After a change was made in the circle, an over throw by the catcher to third let the go-ahead run come in and two batters latter Flint sacrificed herself to stretch Suffolk's lead to two on a fly out to center. The Rams' lead grew to three thanks to the second Nor'Easters misplay of the frame, which allowed Boehler to score.
UNE looked to make up ground in the home half of the seventh and did so. With runners in the corner Sarah Lachapelle singled up the middle to slice the distance to two. Suffolk gained its composure with a pop up and a line out but the runner at first toyed with the defense still and made things interesting when she stole second. Phelan kept her came on the rubber and teamed up with the 13 ground out to lock up the decision.
- Phelan earned the victory, her second in as many outings, and first in relief effort. The righty limited the Nor'Easters to one run on four hits and one walk over 5.0 frames, in which she fanned a pair of batters.
- Flint earned the nod for the first time this season and gave up five runs, three earned, on five hits and three base on balls with a pair of Ks on her stat line over 2.0 innings.
- Sydnee Bessler went 6.0 innings for UNE. The starter allowed seven runs, four earned, on six hits, four walks and sat down five.
- Kate Wilmont came in for the final frame and allowed one run off one walk.
- Flint finished with a 2-for-3 effort at the dish and collected three RBI.
- Murphy had a standout day at the dish with a 1-for-2 effort for a pair of RBI and three runs scored.
- Boehler, who walked twice, accounted for one run.
- Keane picked up one hit and RBI, respectively.
- Cockroft and Phelan each recorded a 1-for-2, one-run day.
- Suffolk began the season 3-0 for the first time since stringing four consecutive triumphs together to lift the lid on the 2016 season.
- The Rams remain unbeaten all-time versus the Nor'Easters, 2-0.
- Murphy registered personal bests in runs (3) and RBI (2) and hit her first collegiate double.
- Loughlin scored her first collegiate run.
Suffolk wraps up day two action at THE Spring Games at 12:15 p.m. against Gettysburg.