ORONO — Albany Great Dane junior left fielder Diane MacDowell was 0-for-8 on the day and hadn’t hit the ball out of the infield when she stepped up to the plate in the eighth inning of a 7-7 tie in the second game of Saturday’s America East softball doubleheader against the University of Maine.
With runners on second and third with one out, MacDowell slapped an RBI single to center and Andrianna Walraven followed with a sharp, two-run opposite-field single as Albany scored five unearned runs to beat Maine 12-7 and sweep the doubleheader.
Albany won the opener 3-1.
The Great Danes also edged the Black Bears 2-1 on Sunday.
Albany has now won eight of its last nine and is 17-18 overall, 8-1 in America East, while Maine fell to 16-25 and 6-6, respectively.
“I had struggled all day long and I needed something to happen and it did,” said MacDowell. “It was now or never for my mental health and for our team. (Maine pitcher Ashley Kelley) threw me a fastball that hung out over the plate. It was a hittable pitch.”
MacDowell stole second and Walraven then singled to right-center to make it 10-7.
“I didn’t feel any pressure. We were (ahead), so I just got up and swung,” said Walraven.
Walraven stole second and Katie Wambold doubled her in to chase Kelley in favor of Beth Spoehr, who was greeted by Gina Mason’s fourth hit of the game, an RBI single.
Back-to-back errors by Maine shortstop Jennifer Eberhardt opened the inning before Kristine Bill sacrificed the runners to second and third.
“The errors gave them momentum, but they fought hard to get those runs,” said Maine catcher Jenny MacDowell.
Albany’s five-run rally wiped out a dramatic comeback by the Black Bears, who trailed 7-2 at one point but rallied for a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it.
With two outs, Meghan McLain singled to center, Hilary Kane doubled her home and MacDowell tied it with an RBI single to center. Brynne Davis singled, but Cassie Hodgson popped up to end the rally.
“The momentum was ours and I never would have predicted the game would end that way,” said Maine coach Deb Smith. “But we lost our composure in the last inning. We made a couple of errors and then gave up some key hits.”
Kylie Apostolina’s two-run single in the three-run fourth inning and Lauren Alcorn’s two-run double in the fifth helped stake Albany to its 7-2 lead.
Mason’s four hits and two apiece by Walraven and Wambold paced Albany’s 13-hit attack, while Maine received two hits apiece from Terren Hall, who had a pair of doubles, MacDowell, Davis, McLain and Kali Burnham.
In the opener, Wambold’s RBI single in the third and Jessica Bergin’s solo homer to left-center in the fourth staked Albany to a 2-0 lead before Eberhardt homered to left in the bottom of the fifth.
But Albany responded with a crucial insurance run in the sixth as Bergin singled with two outs, stole second and scored on No. 9 hitter Bill’s soft line drive single to right.
“I’ve been struggling with my hitting, so anything that falls in I’ll take right now,” said Bill, who entered the twinbill hitting .148.
Starter Spoehr said, “I put the pitch right where I wanted, but she just got her end of the bat on it. It was disappointing. I wanted to keep it within one.”
Spoehr pitched an eight-hitter, striking out four and walking one.
Brittany Schweiger hurled five innings of four-hit, one-run ball with five strikeouts and four walks to notch the first of her two wins, and Brittany MacFawn finished up with two hitless innings.
Walraven, Wambold and Bergin had two hits each for Albany.
“A lot of people hit today. It was good to see people starting to hit the ball hard,” said Albany coach Chris Cannata.
“They did a great job getting hits when they needed them,” said Kelley.
In Sunday’s game, Albany was led by Brittany MacFawn, who tossed a complete game, allowing just one run on three hits. The Great Danes notched single runs in the third and fourth innings on RBI singles from Wambold and Bergin.
Spoehr took the loss for the Black Bears, giving up two runs on seven hits through seven innings. Davis posted two singles and an RBI, and McLain chipped in with a double.
Albany (17-18) 001 100 0 — 2 7 3
Maine (16-25) 010 000 0 — 1 3 1
MacFawn and Alcorn; Spoehr and MacDowell