No. 25 Amherst powers past softball 8-0 in NESCAC quarterfinals

Sophomore Julia Panepinto went 1-2 at the plate in the NESCAC tournament quarterfinals against No. 25 Amherst on Friday, May 4, 2018. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

AMHERST, Mass. -- Audrey Hansen hit a grand slam and the NESCAC West Division champion No. 25 nationally ranked Amherst College Mammoths defeated the Bates softball team 8-0 in five innings Friday in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Championships. 

Sophomore Kirsten Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) struck out eight batters over four and two thirds innings for the Bobcats. Lorena Ukanwa (16-1) held Bates (20-14) to two hits over four innings of shutout ball, striking out eight along the way to earn the win.

Pelletier (11-9) kept the Mammoths (27-5) at bay during the first two innings of action. Amherst put runners at first and second with nobody out in the first. Then Pelletier struck out Sammy Salustri and RonnieMarie Falasco before Ally Kido grounded out to end the inning. 

First-year Mary Collette (Watertown, Conn.) singled with one out in the second for Bates' first hit of the game. The Bobcats left her stranded and Amherst threatened again in the bottom half of the frame. The Mammoths once again put runners at first and second with nobody out but Pelletier struck out the next two hitters. A walk loaded the bases and Pelletier got out of the jam when Kate Kopatic lined out to senior captain Tori Fitzgerald (Holliston, Mass.) at shortstop, ending the inning.

The Mammoths scored six runs in the third inning to take command. Salustri singled to start the frame and Falasco got hit by a pitch. One out later, Kyra Naftel singled to load the bases and Alyson Plaman doubled home a pair to put Amherst up 2-0. Pelletier struck out Julia Turner but Andrea Sanders bunted for a hit and Hansen cleared the bases with her fourth home run of the season and her first career grand slam. 

Sophomore Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) singled with one out in the fourth but Ukanwa struck out the next two batters to end the inning. Pelletier tossed a scoreless fourth and Bates threatened against reliever Gina Pagan in the fifth. First-year Payton Buxton (Middlebury, Vt.) got hit by a pitch to start the frame and two outs later first-year Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.) singled her to third. Pagan got out of the jam via a groundout and Amherst ended the game in the bottom of the fifth. 

With one away, Sanders singled to center. The Mammoths loaded the bases thanks to another single and a walk. Salustri drove in a run with a groundout and Falasco singled in the final run to make the score 8-0. Due the college softball's eight-run rule, Falasco's single ended the contest.

The loss means Bates' season comes to an end. This year marked the Bobcats' second appearance in the NESCAC tournament and their 20 wins this season are the most in program history.