CLERMONT, Fla. – The Ursinus College softball team dominated Rhode Island College in its season opener on Sunday and nearly left with a sweep of the day's twin bill before falling victim to a late rally in a hard-fought setback to Smith.
Sophomore Morgan Comfort tossed a one-hitter and was one of six Bears with two hits in the 11-0, five-inning shutout of Rhode Island College. Freshman Mackenzie Brennan delivered an eye-opening debut, going 6-for-7 with a double and three RBI in her first taste of collegiate competition for the Bears, who hit .453 for the day and played two error-free contests in the field.
Game 1: Ursinus 11, Rhode Island 0 (5)
Ursinus couldn't have dreamed up a better start to the season, getting a lights-out performance from Comfort on the mound and finding its own comfort zone at the plate in overwhelming the Hawks.
After singles by Brennan and sophomore Heather Lazer and a walk to Comfort loaded the bases, two runs came home on an error in the top of the first.
The Bears piled on six more in the third. After a single and stolen base by senior Samantha Garritano and another walk drawn by Comfort, senior Gabrielle Manto again reached on an error to load the bags once more. A third error brought Garritano to the plate, and senior Kayla Quinn delivered a two-run double past a diving outfielder to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Senior Faith Carson plated Quinn with a pinch-hit RBI single, then scored two batters later on Brennan's double. Back-to-back infield hits, the second off the bat of Lazer, had the Bears in front 8-0.
Run-scoring hits by Comfort and senior Sammi Donato, the latter's of the two-run variety, capped the scoring in the fourth inning.
Comfort needed little support, allowing only one hit – a two-out double in the bottom of the second. She walked two and struck out one, working out of a pair of jams with two base runners in the first two frames.
Brennan (2-for-3, two runs, RBI), Quinn (2-for-2, two RBI, two runs), Garritano (2-for-3, two runs), Donato (2-for-3, two RBI), Comfort (2-for-2, RBI, run), and Lazer (2-for-4, run, RBI) all had big days at the plate.
Game 2: Smith 6, Ursinus 5
The Bears looked to have a sweep all but sewed up after racing out to a 4-0 lead through two innings.
Brennan doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and scored on Lazer's groundout. Ursinus went right back to work in the second, as Quinn and sophomore Delaney Baker sandwiched doubles around a base hit by Manto. After Quinn's two-bagger made it 2-0, sophomore Alyssa Myers added to the lead with a sacrifice fly, and Brennan brought home Quinn with yet another base hit.
While the Bears were going about their offensive explosion, junior Jennifer Hammons was rolling on the mound. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, conceding nothing but a leadoff walk in the second. But it started to unravel in the fifth, when Emma Kraus halved the deficit with a two-out, two-run single.
Brennan added an insurance run with her fourth hit of the game, an RBI single with two outs in the sixth to score freshman Julia Eckels.
Smith put its first six batters aboard in the seventh, tying it at 5 and re-loading the bases before the Bears were able to record an out. After freshman Kayla McTamney induced a fielder's choice out at the plate, a ball hit to left field was enough to plate the go-ahead run. Ursinus went down 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Brennan was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBI to cap her sensational debut, while Myers finished 2-for-2 with an RBI as the other Ursinus player with multiple hits. Brennan and Myers joined Baker and Quinn with doubles.
Hammons (0-1) worked six innings and was charged with five runs on six hits. She walked two and struck out four.