BALTIMORE – UMBC softball got its bats going in its America East opening series on Saturday afternoon at UMBC Softball Stadium, combining for 16 hits in two games, including four hits apiece from sophomore catcher Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) and freshman shortstop Bridget O'Malley (Brooklyn, Md./Seton Keough). The Retrievers picked up a 4-2 victory in game one of the doubleheader against Maine, but fell, 11-7, in extra innings after coming from behind in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game.
Hall and O’Malley combined for nine runs, eight hits and three RBI on the day, while sophomore third baseman Courtney Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla./Stoneman Douglas) chipped in four RBI and junior second baseman Caitlin Chance (Easton, Md./Easton) drove in three runs.
In both games, Maine was able to get out in front in the top of the first inning. In the opener, the Black Bears took a 1-0 lead on a double into left field from Hilary Kane, scoring Jessica Burk from second, who reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a walk.
The Retrievers evened things up in the bottom half of the inning as O’Malley launched her first collegiate home run, sending it over the fence in left field to tie the game at one apiece.
Senior Heather Brown (Pasdena, Md./Northeast) pitched a beauty, but Maine’s second hit of the contest was a long ball on a full count from junior third baseman Jean Stevens, her team-leading seventh of the season, to put the Black Bears out in front 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning.
UMBC responded though, taking over the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, with O’Malley – the Retrievers all-time freshman walks leader – drawing a one-out walk and Hall pelting her sixth home run of the year to give the Retrievers a 3-2 advantage. The black and gold were not done yet though, Chance drew another walk for the Retrievers, forcing the exit of starting pitcher Beth Spoehr and Reinfeld followed by picking up her first RBI of the afternoon with a double down the left field line to give UMBC an insurance run, 4-2.
The Black Bears put two runners on in the top of the seventh, but Brown (4-6) was able to complete the game, throwing the three-hit victory. Spoehr was credited with the loss (2-7), giving up four runs on four hits in 5.2 innings.
In game two, a walk and two-run home run from Kane again put Maine out in front after its first at bats. The Retrievers looked to eliminate their deficit by threatening in the bottom of the second, putting runners on first and second after a single and a hit batter, but Maine’s starting pitcher Kylie Sparks was able to get out of the jam with three consecutive ground outs.
The Black Bears added another run in the top of the third inning with a solo home run from Stevens, her second of the afternoon, to extend the lead to 3-0.
Maine further extended its lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning after stringing together three hits and adding a pair of walks and an UMBC error, but the Retrievers were able to chip away at the deficit, picking up three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The black and gold loaded the bases with one out for Chance, who came through with a two-run double down the right field line and Reinfeld followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Chelsea Bertoglio (Laguna Hills, Calif./Saddleback College) from third, making it a 5-3 game.
UMBC starting pitcher Rachel Ionata (Tampa, Fla./Palm Harbor University) settled in, not allowing a hit in her final two innings, and allowing the Retrievers’ offense to come through in the bottom of the seventh. O’Malley started things off with a single off the tip of the pitchers glove and following a Maine pitching change – Hannah Hill entering for starter Kylie Sparks – Hall sent a double down the right field line to put runners on second and third with no outs. A grounder hit back to the pitcher from Bertoglio scored O’Malley from third and brought UMBC within one, 5-4. Chance grounded out for the second out of the inning, but moved Hall over to third and Reinfeld came up big again for the Retrievers with the RBI single into left center field to tie the game at five.
Brown entered the game for UMBC in the eighth and both her and Hill were able to get through the eighth after facing three batters apiece. In the ninth, the Black Bears loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk and from there exploded for six runs in the frame. The Retrievers tried to recover, cashing in two runs in the bottom half of the inning, but it was not enough to complete the comeback victory.
Brown, game one’s winner, was credited with the loss (4-7), while Hill picked up her second win of the season (2-8).
The Retrievers conclude their America East opening series against Maine on Sunday, March 24. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at the UMBC Softball Stadium.