Kissimmee, FL --- Junior Natalie Fabrizio (Hampstead, NH), senior Lindsay Gurska (Revere, MA) and junior Nina Murphy-Cook (Roseville, CA) each had a 3-for-4 game while junior Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, MA) and freshman Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, MA) combined for a shutout as the WPI softball team opened the 2017 campaign with a pair of wins at the Citrus Games. The 12th-ranked Engineers topped Thiel 5-2 and blanked Simmons 8-0 in six.
Fabrizio and Gurska accounted for three of the five runs scored in the opener. Murphy-Cook went 2-for-4 and stole a pair of bases to go with one from freshman Cassie Graca (Somerset, MA).
Junior Casey Arpin (Uxbridge, MA) picked up her first win of the season after allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out four and not issuing a walk in five innings of work. Phillips struck out a pair in two innings of relief.
WPI put its first two runs of the season on the scoreboard with two outs in the top of the second. Gurska came home on a comebacker to the pitcher courtesy of Graca's first collegiate hit. Murphy-Cook drove in Fabrizio with a single to left. With two outs in the bottom of the frame, the Tomcats pulled one back with an RBI single to right center.
The game remained 2-1 until a three-run seventh by the Crimson and Gray. Saucier reached on a throwing miscue to help chase Gruska home. Junior Katie Chagami (Waipahu, HI) then pushed classmate RiAnna May (Westminster, CO) across the plate with a fielder's choice and Graca drew a bases loaded walk for the 5-1 advantage. Another Thiel RBI knock made it 5-2. A pair of infield grounders sealed the win.
Saucier yielded two hits and struck out six in 4 1/3 innings and Phillips did not allow a hit and fanned one in the balance of the game against Simmons. The Sharks also used a pair of pitchers.
Murphy-Cook stole two more bases in her 3-for-4 performance. Graca swiped her second of the year while junior Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) and sophomore Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, NH) each picked up their first. Biney also drove in a pair of runs and Chagami was credited with a sacrifice fly.
The Engineers forged a three-run lead in the home half of the second behind a junior Julia Veitch's (Carlisle, MA) single to center and a pair of miscues later in the stanza. WPI tacked on four more in the fourth, highlighted by a 2-RBI ground out by Biney. Gurska and senior Hope Shevchuk (Burlington, MA) also logged an RBI for the Crimson and Gray.
Gurska concluded the successful day with a game-ending RBI ground out in the bottom of the sixth.
WPI resumes action tomorrow at 11am with St. Joseph's (ME) and then gets its first big test of the season at 3:30pm versus No. 2 St. John Fisher.