NIAGARA, N.Y. – UMBC softball’s sophomore pitcher Miranda Clark (Tampa, Fla./H.B. Plant) fanned a career-best 13 batters, the most by a Retriever pitcher since Stephanie Weigman on April 7, 2010, as Clark picked up her third victory of the season and helped UMBC defeat Niagara, 4-2, in game one of Saturday afternoon’s non-conference doubleheader. The Retrievers held on for a 7-5 win in game two at Niagara Softball Field to improve to 11-40 on the season, while the Purple Eagles fall to 14-28.
UMBC junior outfielder Kayla Martinez (Odenton, Md./Arundel) batted at a .571 clip on the day (4-for-7) and tallied three RBI, while freshman outfielder Danielle O'Neill (Loathian, Md./Southern) finished with three hits – two of which were doubles – and a team-best five runs batted in.
In game one, the Retrievers did all of their damage in two innings, jumping out to a three-run lead in the top of the second and adding an insurance run in the third. Junior first baseman Chelsea Bertoglio (Laguna Hills, Calif./Laguna Hills/Saddleback College) led off the second with a walk and classmate Martinez put runners on first and second with a one-out single through the left side of the infield. Sophomore center fielder Mary Hartman (Eldersburg, Md./Century) loaded the bases with an infield single and O’Neill picked up three RBI with a bases-clearing double into center field, to give the Retrievers the 3-0 advantage.
UMBC capitalized on Niagara’s only miscue of the contest, as Bertoglio reached base on a Purple Eagles error in the top of the third. Martinez drove in Bertoglio from second on her second single of the afternoon and provided the Retrievers with a four-run cushion.
Clark was outstanding, holding Niagara to just one hit through the first six innings. After drawing a pair of one-out walks, the Purple Eagles drove in one run with a single to right field from designated player Ally Gay in the bottom of the seventh. Clark was able to get the second out of the inning, fanning first baseman Connal Kelly, but a second RBI-single in the inning brought Niagara within two, 4-2. Clark picked up her career-best 13th strikeout of the afternoon to end the contest with runners on first and second.
Freshman Bridget O'Malley (Brooklyn, Md./Seton Keough) went 2-for-2 from the dish and reached base on all four plate appearances, while Martinez and O’Neill each finished the contest with two hits.
Clark (3-7) threw her second complete game of the season and allowed two runs on three hits. Niagara starter Jennifer Sansano (10-11) had nine strikeouts on the afternoon and surrendered three earned runs on seven hits.
In game two, it was Niagara that got out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Brittany Richberg was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and Katelyn Gruarin dropped down a bunt for a single to put runners on first and second. A double to right field from Becky Zill scored Richberg and left Gruarin on third. Alexis Wayne lined out to center field, but the throw in from the Retrievers was not in time to get Gruarin, putting the Purple Eagles out in front, 2-0. Back-to-back singles from Amanda Werth and Ambur Farmer extended the lead to three runs.
UMBC chipped away at its deficit, as a walk, single and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for the Retrievers in the second. An infield ground out gave Martinez her second RBI of the day and a single to center field from freshman right fielder Jordan Sganga (Edgewater, Md./South River) helped the black and gold come within one at 3-2.
The Retrievers evened up the contest in the top of the fourth, scoring in much of the same way as the second, as another Martinez RBI-single scored Scroggin, who reached base on a walk to lead off the inning.
UMBC took the lead for good in the top of the sixth inning on O’Neill’s team-leading 10th double of the season with bases loaded, scoring Martinez and Sganga on the play. The Retrievers would add two more runs in the top of the seventh frame, the first coming on a double to left field from junior second baseman Caitlin Chance (Easton, Md./Easton) and the second coming as an unearned run on a fielding error from Niagara’s shortstop.
A two-run single from Zill cut the Purple Eagles deficit to two, 7-5, in the bottom half of the inning, but that is as close as Niagara would get, as UMBC starting pitcher Heather Brown (Pasadena, Md./Northeast) was able to get three of the next four batters to fly out to end the contest.
Brown (6-19) earned the complete game victory, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and fanning five batters. Niagara pitcher Kim Bryson surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits.
The Retrievers close out the season and the series on Sunday at Niagara Softball Field. Game time is set for 11 a.m.