May 21, 2019
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UMaine softball team opens America East tourney with victory over Hartford

Sophomore right fielder Meghan Royle drove in a career-high five runs with a triple and a double and junior center fielder Rachel Carlson doubled and singled, walked twice and scored three runs as No. 2 University of Maine beat No. 6 Hartford 9-1 in five innings Thursday in its opening round game at the America East softball tournament in Vestal, New York.

Senior left-hander and second-team all-conference pitcher Erin Bogdanovich tossed 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball to pick up the win before leaving due to a left forearm injury, according to head coach Mike Coutts.

Her availability for the rest of the tournament is unknown, he said.

“The girls were ready to play. They were in a real good place,” said Coutts whose team was without suspended senior catcher Rachel Harvey and junior relief pitcher Annie Kennedy.

Junior left-handed first baseman Kristen Niland caught Bogdanovich but Coutts said Niland had trouble catching the right-handed Flowers’s screwball so Maddie Decker came on to catch Flowers.

Coutts, who didn’t decide upon a catcher until 45 minutes before the game, was pleased with both catchers and he said he was also happy about the fact his Black Bears played errorless ball.

The Black Bears, now 17-23, will take on fourth-seed Albany, 25-15, on Friday at 11 a.m.

Albany upset top seed and tourney host Binghamton 4-3 after besting No. 5 University of Maryland-Baltimore County 5-4 on Wednesday.

The Great Danes swept UMaine 2-0, 6-5 last weekend on Seniors Day in Orono.

Hartford, which is 4-44, met No.3 Stony Brook in an elimination game later Thursday. Hartford, which went 0-16 in America East during the regular season, had stunned Stony Brook 3-1 in their tourney opener on Wednesday to snap a 26-game losing streak.

“We understand that softball is a game of momentum and anyone can show up and win. We didn’t underestimate [Hartford],” Royle said. “We made sure we played our game.”

Royle said her five-RBI game a “welcome difference.

“I had been struggling at the plate. I’m a contact hitter and I hadn’t been making great contact,” said Royle. “I focused on understanding the pressure of the situation and not letting it get to me. I had to rise to the occasion.”

The Black Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Carlson walked, Felicia Lennon doubled to right center, and walks to Alyssa Derrick and Maddie Decker forced in the first run before a wild pitch delivered the second.

Hartford cut it to 2-1 in the fourth on two walks by Bogdanovich, two wild pitches by Molly Flowers and a passed ball.

But the Black Bears broke the game open with four two-out unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Maddie Moore reached on a one-out infield error before Carlson belted a double to left and Royle ripped a two-run double over the left fielder’s head.

“They were playing shallow in the outfield so I told [Royle] to hit one over their heads,” chuckled Coutts.
Lennon walked and RBI singles by Derrick and Erika Leonard capped the rally.

Royle’s three-run triple to left center ended it in the fifth due to the eight-run mercy rule after Moore had singled, Faythe Goins walked and Carlson reached on a bunt single.

Lead-off hitter Carlson said she was just looking to get on base.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was just trying to do my job,” she said.

Bogdanovich struck out three and walked four before Flowers finished up with 1 1/3 innings of hitless ball with two strikeouts and one walk.

Meghan Wynn singled for Hartford’s lone hit.

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