Vestal, N.Y. – Sophomore pitcher Kim Puccio (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) dazzled in her postseason debut, allowing just one hit and striking out three as the fifth-seeded UMBC Softball team defeated sixth-seeded Hartford, 4-0, in an America East Tournament elimination game on Wednesday afternoon at Binghamton University. The win was the first America East Tournament victory for the Retrievers since 2008.
UMBC (25-30) put runners on in every inning, but Hartford (6-45) was able to keep them off the scoreboard the first three frames. In the first, Morgan Peyou (Mercer Island, Wash/Mercer Island) beat out an infield single with one out, but a fly out and ground-out stranded her. The following inning, Kaelin Jackson (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) led-off with a single through the left side, moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Danielle O'Neill (Lothian, Md/Southern), but two pop-ups to short followed to end the inning. Jaclyn Buckley (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Camden Regional) started the third off with a double off the wall in left. Bridget O'Malley (Baltimore, Md./Seton Keough) hit a slow roller up the middle that Buckley had to wait on before safely moving to third, drawing a throw and allowing O'Malley to reach second. A walk loaded the bases but a fielder's choice putout at home and deep fly out to the warning track in center ended the threat.
The Retrievers finally broke through in the fourth after O'Neill beat out an infield single just past the pitcher's circle. After a pop up, senior Jordan Sganga (Edgewater, Md./South River) singled followed by a fielder's choice which got the runner at third. O'Malley then ripped a two-out double down the left field line to score Sganga and put UMBC up 1-0. The following inning, Carly Lesko (New Milford, N.J./New Milford) blasted a full-count pitch well over the center field wall for her 11th homer of the season to double the advantage. In the sixth, UMBC put the first two batters on via error and Buckley moved the pair over with a bunt, and O'Malley plated a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. Sophomore centerfielder Tori Alexander (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge Senior) produced the final margin of 4-0 with an RBI single through the left side.
Puccio went the distance on just 69 pitches, allowing just the one hit and one walk to improve to 8-5 on the year.
The Retrievers return to action on Thursday at 4 p.m. when they play in another elimination game. UMBC will face the lowest-seeded one-loss team remaining in the tournament. The first-seeded Binghamton Bearcats face fourth-seeded Stony Brook at 11 a.m., while second-seeded Maine takes on third-seeded Albany at 1:30 p.m.