Softball leads second-place UMass Lowell into fifth in opener during twinbill setbacks

LOWELL, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College softball team led second-place University of Massachusetts at Lowell into the fifth inning of its doubleheader opener on Saturday before falling twice, 4-2 and 8-0 in five innings, at River View Field. The Purple Knights are now 1-32 overall and 1-13 in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division play, while the River Hawks stand 21-18 and 11-3.

First-year Danielle DelGreco (Lexington, Mass./Lexington) was 2-for-3 with a run in game one for the visitors, and senior Carleen McLaughlin (Branford, Conn./Branford) finished 2-for-3 with an RBI. Classmate Stephanie Frank (Essex, Vt./Essex) allowed two earned runs in six innings while striking out three.

Junior Ali Ferraro (Kingston, N.Y./Kingston) went 2-for-3 with a double for UMass Lowell, and three teammates drove in one run apiece. First-year Marielle Handley (Durham, Conn./Copinchaug Regional) scattered seven hits while earning the win.

The Purple Knights countered a two-out River Hawk run in the first inning with one in each the third and fourth frames. Junior Amanda Brigante (Colchester, Vt./Colchester) came through with a tying two-out RBI knock before McLaughlin posted a two-out RBI single of her own to make it 2-1.

With two out in the fifth, UMass Lowell pushed across the tying run on an infield single before the eventual winning run came in on an error. Saint Michael's saw a double play end the top of the sixth, and a two-out single by senior Krista MacKenzie (Ipswich, Mass./Ipswich) put the hosts ahead by two in the home half. McLaughlin reached on an error in the seventh to bring up the tying run, but a double play ended the contest.

McLaughlin and first-year Judi Barcavage (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) each had hits in the nightcap, and first-year Jessica Niles (Chaumont, N.Y./General Brown) took the loss after going two-plus innings. Senior Lauren Mercik (Suffield, Conn./Suffield) tossed a pair of shutout frames, yielding one hit and fanning three.

Ferraro was 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a double, and senior Brianna Mahoney (Billerica, Mass./Billerica) scored twice, drove in two and added a double. Sophomore Courtney Lanfranchi (Burlington, Mass./Burlington) tossed the two-hit shutout over five innings.

Sophomore Melissa King (Stamford, Conn./Stamford) provided the hosts with a two-run double in the second inning before scoring on an error, and Ferraro and Mahoney hit consecutive two-run doubles during a five-run third. Mercik came on to retire six of the seven batters she faced, fanning three of the final four.

The Purple Knights complete a weekend trip to Massachusetts tomorrow with a pair of games, facing UMass Lowell at 11 a.m. and Stonehill College at 3 p.m.