NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – After consecutive rainy days and canceled games, the MIT softball team finally opened New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play on Tuesday, facing Smith College in a double header on the road. Tech lost the first game, 3-2, in eight innings after going to a tie breaker, but held on to an early lead in the second game to take a 6-4 victory over the Pioneers. The Engineers are now 4-8 and 1-1 in NEWMAC play, while Smith is 8-3 and 2-2 in league action.
In the first game, freshman Ali Trueworthy (Rochester, N.H.) was 1-for-4 with one RBI, while junior K.K. Wopat (Edwardsville, Ill.) was 1-for-3 with one run. Classmate Ellie Fodor (Trenton, Mich.) pitched 7.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three runs, while striking out nine batters. During the second game, fellow junior Karly McLaughlin (Edwardsville, Ill.) led the team with her two runs, going 2-for-4, while Wopat dominated with her three RBIs. Freshman Mackenzie Donnelly (Helena, Mont.) pitched 6.2 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs and striking out two.
Game one got off to a slow start, remaining locked at zero until almost halfway through. Freshman Natalie Shifflet (Poway, Calif.) was the first Engineer to get a hit, doubling with two outs on the board at the top of the third, but the inning ended when the next batter struck out.
Sophomore Tori Jensen (Holliston, Mass.) reached on a dropped fly by the right fielder in the top of the fourth, advancing to second on the error. McLaughlin reached on a fielding error, allowing Jensen to advance to third and then make it home, putting the first run up on the board. Tech furthered its lead over the Pioneers in the fifth inning, when Wopat doubled down the left field line and was sent home on a double by Trueworthy.
Smith officially put the pressure on in the sixth inning when it tied the score without getting a single out. Caroline Kushner had her first hit of the game when she singled to center field, stole second and then advanced to third when Brittney Blokker reached on a fielding error. Blokker stole second and, when Edie Richardson doubled to right field, both Blokker and Kushner made it home. Tech controlled the situation and did not allow any more hits, ending the inning speedily.
After going through the seventh inning with no change to the score, the game went to a tie breaker. With Trueworthy placed on second, junior Sarah Van Belleghem (Los Gatos, Calif.) singled and advanced to second on the throw. Trueworthy advanced to third and tried to power home, but was tagged out when sliding home. With one more out, the inning ended and Kushner was placed on second at the bottom of the eighth. With a sacrifice bunt by Blokker, Kushner advanced to third and scored the game-winning run off a sacrifice fly by Richardson, ending the first game.
The second game was a different story. Following a scoreless first inning, Tech scored its first run in the top of the second at the hands of Donnelly. After retiring the three Smith batters swiftly, Sarah Van Belleghem, freshman Emily Van Belleghem (Los Gatos, Calif.) and McLaughlin added three more runs in the top of the next inning to give MIT a 4-0 lead rather early in the game.
In the bottom of the third, Brown doubled and advanced to third when Giordano reached on a fielder's choice and stole second. With runners on second and third and just one out, the Pioneers threatened to score their first run but, when the next batter flied out and the one after fouled out, the inning ended.
McLaughlin doubled in the top of the fourth inning, moving on to third when Emily Van Belleghem singled. Freshman Helen Rosenthal (Bethesda, Md.) pinch ran for Emily Van Belleghem and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Following a Donnelly single, Rosenthal advanced a base and McLaughlin made it home, scoring her second run of the game. It was not long until Rosenthal followed suit, adding Tech's sixth run of the game off a Wopat sacrifice fly.
In the following inning, the Pioneers scored their first runs, starting when Blokker singled, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and making it home on an Allison Snyder triple. When Gina Martucci singled to center field, Snyder followed, adding the second run of the inning. With a quick seventh inning for the Engineers, the Pioneers, once again, threatened to send the game to extra innings when Kushner and Zimmerman scored unearned runs, but Fodor shut the inning down when the next batter struck out looking, ending the game.
Now that the rain has stopped and the sun is shining, the Engineers have a busy week of games ahead of them. Tomorrow, MIT will face another NEWMAC rival, Babson College, on the road at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Friday, April 4, Tech will play its first home game of the season when it hosts conference foe Emerson College at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m.