March 22, 2018
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Maine softball team drops two of three

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

ORONO — The University of Maine’s softball team began this weekend’s home-opening three-game series against Stony Brook (N.Y.) with five wins in its previous six games. Stony Brook had lost five of its last six.

But the Seawolves unleashed a 14-hit attack on Sunday at the expense of three Black Bear pitchers to collect a 9-5 win and take two out of three.

Stony Brook, 12-18 overall and 2-7 in America East, won Saturday’s doubleheader opener 4-2 behind senior righthander Colleen Matthes’ three-hitter and a four-run fifth inning rally before Maine erased a 5-1 deficit in the nightcap to earn a 13-5 triumph thanks to a nine-run fifth inning.

Maine is now 15-22 and 6-3 in America East.

“All we worked on during the week was our hitting fundamentals,” said Stony Brook freshman left fielder Jessica Combs, who doubled twice and singled Sunday and drove in two runs. “We hit the ball where it was pitched.”

“We weren’t hitting collectively. But we really brought it this weekend,” said sophomore designated hitter Taylor Chain, who doubled and singled and knocked in a pair of runs.

Stony Brook hit .333 (29-for-87) in the series after entering the weekend hitting .224.

“We left too many pitches over the plate and they took advantage. And we didn’t take advantage (of their hittable pitches),” said Maine coach Deb Smith who added that she “wasn’t impressed” with her pitchers but expects them to bounce back.

“They were really aggressive at the plate. I made some mistakes and they took advantage of every single one,” said Maine righthander Ashley Kelley, who made two starts and surrendered nine hits and four earned runs in 2 ? innings.

On Sunday, Stony Brook scored six two-out runs and answered every Maine rally with insurance runs.

Consecutive two-run RBI doubles by Chain and Combs in the first inning staked Stony Brook to a lead it would never relinquish.

Gina Bianculli homered to open the second and Kelley was replaced by Beth Spoehr.

Suzanne Karath hit a one-out single, stole second and scored on Lauren Maloney’s two-out single.

Three infield singles and Meghan McLain’s sacrifice fly produced a pair of runs in the third for Maine but Stony Brook responded with three two-out runs in the fourth as Alyssa Hawley singled, Maloney and Bernadette Tenuto ripped RBI doubles to chase Spoehr and Chain greeted reliever Kylie Sparks with an RBI base hit.

Maine clawed back with three in the bottom of the fourth on Margaret Hilton’s double, Lindsey Jenkins’s single, Jennifer Eberhardt’s RBI double over Combs’ head and Terren Hall’s looping two-run single into right center.

The Seawolves added two insurance runs in the sixth as Combs delivered a bases-loaded RBI single through the shortstop hole and Elise Fortier greeted Kelley with an RBI single.

Matthes struck out McLain for the third time to end a bases-loaded threat in the bottom of the sixth.

Maloney had three hits to cap a seven-hit weekend. Combs had her three hits while Hawley and Tenuto joined Chain with two hits each. Eberhardt’s three hits and Kali Burnham’s two paced Maine.

Matthes pitched an eight-hitter with nine strikeouts and three walks to pick up the win.

In Saturday’s opener, Matthes fanned six and walked four and Maloney had a two-run double in the decisive fifth-inning rally.

Hilary Kane singled and drove in a run for Maine.

In the nightcap, Spoehr pitched five innings of three-hit, shutout relief, striking out three and not walking anybody, and Burnham drove in four runs with a pair of singles. Kane had a double and a single and two RBIs and Jean Stevens and Eberhardt each drove in a pair.

Hawley and Maloney had three hits each for Stony Brook and Tenuto and Fortier had two each.

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