HAWKS RESILIENT IN TWO PIVOTAL WINS OVER SAVANNAH ST.
March 16, 2013
SAVANNAH, Ga. – It was a banner day for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore softball team on Friday as the squad swept a doubleheader against Savannah State, who owns the top record in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to date. The team held off a furious SSU rally in game one to win 11-10, before the Lady Hawks came back to swipe a 6-5 victory over the Lady Tigers in the nightcap. The sweep is the first ever sweep for UMES over Savannah State since they became a member of the MEAC.
UMES (7-12) was led in the twinbill by sophomore Morgan King (Danville, Ill.), who went 4-for-8 with three RBI and three runs scored. Senior Jasmine James (Willingboro, N.J.) was also 4-for-8 with three runs and two RBI, while freshman Vanessa Gomez (Belleville, N.J.) had three RBI in game one. UMES combined for 17 runs and 19 hits in the doubleheader, as the Lady Hawks capitalized on eight SSU errors.
The Lady Hawks came out of the gates swinging as the squad took a 10-0 lead after three innings of play. After a scoreless first, senior Belen Benitez doubled to open the inning and moved over on a groundout by junior Chelsea Alston (Matawan, N.J.). Benitez would come in on an RBI single by Gomez, who scored on an RBI by junior Cherokee Williams (Upper Marlboro, N .J.). Williams scored on a ball in play by senior Carmen Gurrola (Arleta, Calif.)
It was a big second frame that gave UMES the huge lead. Aside from an inside the park homerun by James, the team scored all of its runs with two outs. Gomez doubled in a pair before Williams and Gurrola were each put on to load the bases. King ripped a double to centerfield to score all three runs and scored after Gurrola reached on SSU’s second error of the inning.
Savannah State (14-10) would slowly go to work on chipping away at its deficit. Following a scoreless UMES fourth, SSU put up four in the bottom half of the inning. UMES added an insurance run in the fifth when Williams stole home, but the Lady Tigers took the inning with a pair of their own to make the score 11-6.
The teams would each go quietly the next few innings until SSU struck with a big rally in the last inning. With one out, Gurrola surrendered a two-run homer to Torrian Wright to bring the game within three. Gurrola then induced a pop up to second base to secure two outs, before Imani Gayle walked and came home on another two-run homer by Tiffany Taylor.
Gurrola would bare down and get the next hitter to pop up to freshman catcher Rachel Vander Ven (Dover, Del.) to thwart the rally and give UMES the big road victory in game one.
The second game proved to be much different than the first. Savannah State jumped to the early lead with a 3-0 lead after three innings as the Lady Hawks struggled to get anything done against 2013 MEAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Madison Hedderly. SSU would go on to add two more in fifth to extend its lead to five.
Hedderly went to work on the UMES offense through the first five innings as the senior did not allow a run and had allowed just one hit. It was the sixth inning where UMES would finally break through.
The Lady Hawks began the sixth with four of their first five hitters reaching base on singles. Freshman Trenece Nash (Decatur, Ga.) singled home King to tally the team’s first run, before Alston singled in a pair with the bases loaded. The runs cut the SSU lead to just two, 5-3.
UMES was faced with its back against the wall in the seventh. Gurrola walked with one out and moved over on a single by King. James went on to single in Gurrola and King scored to even the game at five all on a passed ball. With James at third base, Nash came up big with an RBI groundout to give the Lady Hawks their first lead of the game.
The final half inning saw Benitez (1-4) walk the leadoff hitter, but the senior retired the next three hitters in order to preserve the doubleheader sweep. Benitez picked up her first win of the year in game two as she limited SSU to six hits and just four earned in seven innings.
The Lady Hawks look to take the series with Savannah State today, March 16, when they square off with the Lady Tigers at noon. The game is the first of a doubleheader and the second game will begin immediately following the first.