The UMBC softball team lost consecutive games against the Maine Black Bears 4-1 and 7-1 in the weekend of April 21’s shortened two game series (with Saturday’s doubleheader being cut to a single game due to rain). Despite the Retrievers making 13 hits over the course of both games, and junior Carly Lesko hitting the first home run of the series, Maine still proved to be too much for UMBC.
Maine possessed the superior record over UMBC over the years (25-15) and it showed in this series. The Retrievers, 19-22 overall record before the weekend, begun to show their offensive prowess, particularly in the recent 15-0 and 11-7 routs of Rider University. Going into these games on the back of a 1-2 series record against the Great Danes of the University at Albany; they had positive signs of life but issues to work on.
Before the game, head coach Heather Gelbard spoke about the areas that the team could build on, and how important it was to start the game well.
“I thought we’ve made some strides in the past week, showing an aggressiveness up to bat. We saw a couple of people who had been struggling break out and have some really good performances. [The key for us is] getting some runs early, not letting the other team score on us early [so as not to let them] change some of our offensive game plan.”
The Retrievers started the first game positively, with the team keeping Maine without a run in the first inning. UMBC junior pitcher Kim Puccio put in a good performance in this game, making no errors and striking out one. Then Lesko homered to left field at the bottom of the first, recording a hit and a run, and giving UMBC the lead as a reward for being in the ascendancy. Maine remained scoreless until the start of the fourth inning.
From the top of the fourth, Maine began to dominate the game, hitting four homeruns in that inning alone. They did not need any more as they held UMBC and managed to shut UMBC out for the duration of the game.
The second game did not go according to Gelbard’s plan either. The Retriever’s defense was unable to hold out the Black Bears, as they scored five runs in the first three innings. UMBC’s offense did not get any homeruns until the last inning when second baseman senior Jaclyn Buckley got on with a fielder’s choice. Maine scored two homers in the seventh inning, closing the game out and wining the series finale 7-1.
The Retrievers’ offense and defense may not have been strong enough to defeat the number one team in America East, but they showed resilience to keep going and trying to get on the board despite the heavy defeat. The resilience is a positive for the team as they look forward to a trio of games against UMass Lowell next week.