Ambrosino, Gonzales Keep Hot-Hitting Softball Rolling with Sweep Over Smith

WPI seniors Renee LeClaire, Kylie Juarez and Caraline Wood

WORCESTER -- A hot-hitting stretch that started in Friday's doubleheader at Coast Guard continued into Saturday afternoon as WPI softball put up a combined 26 runs for a second straight day, sweeping Smith, 9-4 and 17-3, at Rooftop Field on Senior Day. 

Lindsay Ambrosino (Chelmsford, MA) and Marissa Gonzales (Oakley, CA) set the tone at the top of the lineup, with Ambrosino homering to center field on the Engineers' first at bat of the game to give the hosts an early shot in the arm. 

Gonzales was the only player on either team to string together two multi-hit games on the day, going 2 for 4 with two steals and two runs scored in the first game and then 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBI in the five-inning, mercy-rule shortened nightcap. 

WPI improved to 23-7 overall and maintain their edge over MIT in the NEWMAC standings, moving to 13-1 in conference play. Smith fell to 6-20 and 1-12 in NEWMAC. 

The star freshman Ambrosino's first-inning home run put WPI ahead for good in the first game, while junior Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, MA) tossed her seventh complete game of the season, giving up four runs and striking out four to improve her record to 13-2. 

The Engineers took advantage of some pitching struggles in the third inning to tack on five more runs without registering a hit, as Smith walked the bases loaded and then senior captains Caraline Wood (Averill Park, NY) and Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, NH), and junior Cassie Graca (Somerset, MA) all scored on successive wild pitches. 

Taylor Ostrum (Tucson, AZ) also walked and then later scored on a double steal with Kylie Juarez (Elk Grove, CA), while Juarez came home on a ground out by Hailey McCasland (Wrentham, MA) to make it a 6-0 advantage through three innings. 

The opportunistic hosts put two more runs across in the fourth inning as Gonzales hit a leadoff single and then Graca walked with two outs to put runners on the corners. A throwing error as Graca stole second allowed by players to come around and score. 

The Pioneers got a couple runs back in the top of the fifth as Rachael Newhall (Riverside, CA) slapped a two-run single up the middle with Tyler Feeney (Merrimac, MA) and Stephanie Konas (Glenmont, NY) in scoring position to cut it to 8-2.   

Gonzales added the Engineers' final run of the game in the sixth inning, singling, working her way around to third and then stealing home. 

The visitors rallied with two outs in the top of the seventh, but came up Mel Regan (West Islip, NY) and Lucy Grant (Bethel, CT) each had RBI singles, driving in Konas and Newhall, before Phillips settled down to get the final out. 

Smith briefly led in the top of the first of the second game, getting an RBI triple from Newhall (2 for 3) that drove in Makena Wagner (Hilo, HI). Two batters later, Newhall scored on a base hit from Grant (2 for 3) to make it 2-0 early on. 

The Engineers grabbed back the lead in the bottom half of the inning, as Ambrosino led off with a single, followed by three straight extra base hits.  

Gonzales doubled to left field to put runners in scoring position, and then Wood drove in both she and Ambrosino with a double to center. Wood (2 for 3) then scored to make it 3-2 as LeClaire (3 for 3) followed up with another double back to left field. 

LeClaire tagged up on a sacrifice fly by Juarez to cap a four-run first inning for WPI. 

Ambrosino and Gonzales both came in to score on a base hit to right field by LeClaire in the second inning to push the hosts' lead to 6-2, but it was the third inning when it all came together for the Engineers for an 11-run rally to put the game out of reach. 

WPI loaded the bases to start the third inning with singles by Juarez, Skylar O'Connell (North Attleboro, MA) and McCasland. Ambrosino followed suit with a knock to center that drove in Juarez as nine straight batters reached base before Smith recorded an out. 

O'Connell and McCasland both scored as Gonzales reached on an error. Wood singled to load the bases again and then LeClaire followed that with an RBI single to center. 

Nicole Kuberka (Los Angeles, CA) reached base and Gonzalez scored on an error at home, followed by a grounder up the middle by Graca to make it 12-2 still with no outs. 

O'Connell kept things going with a one-out RBI single to right and then Kaitlyn Hess (Milford, NH) walked with the bases loaded. Ambrosino and Gonzalez both provided run-scoring singles and then Wood had a sacrifice fly that Hess scored on to cap the rally. 

Konas smacked a solo homer to left field in the fourth inning to set the final score. 

Sophomore Katie Martin (Bedford, NH) came on in relief of starter Abigail O'Connor (Belle Mead, NJ) to allow just three hits one run over four innings to move to 7-2. 

Before the game, the Engineers honored seniors Wood, LeClaire and Juarez, who playing in their final home regular season weekend contests, however Wood has a season of eligibility remaining and plans to return next year as a graduate student.    

WPI's Monday doubleheader against Tufts and Williams out in Williamstown has been cancelled due to expected rain, meaning the Engineers will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon when they host a two-game set against Bridgewater State. 

Smith resumes with a doubleheader at Elms College on Tuesday.