Amherst, Mass. - March 25, 2010 - Megan Fitzgerald allowed just five hits over six innings, but a two-run home run in the fourth inning proved to be the difference as the Amherst College Lord Jeffs edged the Springfield College softball team, 2-0, on Thursday afternoon.
The loss drops Springfield's record to 4-7 this season while Amherst runs its record to 7-5 in the 2010 campaign.
For the first three and a half innings of the game, Amherst’s Alex Chang-Graham and Fitzgerald were engaged squarely in a pitcher’s duel. The pair had combined to give up just three hits and no runs heading into the home half of the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Amherst sophomore Carly Dudzik ined a lead-off double down the third base line. That brought up senior Emily Neil with a runner in scoring position, and put some pressure on Fitzgerald for the first time all day. Neil came through with a towering two-run homer to the left-center power alley.
In the top of the sixth inning, Springfield’s Chelsea Bender singled through the left side of the infield after a long at bat to lead off the frame. After Bender stole second, she advanced to third on a line drive by Kelly Blake that hit Chang-Graham on the mound. The play set up first and third with one out, before Blake stole second to put two players in scoring position. The Amherst hurler got Michelle Wlosek to pop out to Dudzik at shortstop for the second out. The final out of the inning came as Bryn Worrilow put a charge in the ball, only to see the liner head straight into for Neil’s glove at second base.
In the bottom of the seventh, Chang-Graham started the frame off by getting Amanda Novak to chop a liner off the end of the bat to first base for an out. Springfield’s Caitlin Corry then hit a bases-empty double over Theresa Kelley’s head in left field. Liz Milly moved Corry to third on a ground out, but after Springfield’s Melanie Scuderi came to the plate as a pinch hitter, Chang-Graham induced a ground out to end the game.
Neil’s two-run blast proved to be enough for Chang-Graham (3-3), who pitched seven-inning s for the complete game, five-hit shutout win. Chang-Graham had two strikeouts and no walks in the effort. Fitzgerald (1-2) held Amherst to just five hits in 6.0 innings in the loss.
Neil finished the day 3-for-3 for the Lord Jeffs with both of the team’s RBIs, while Christina Andersonand Dudzik had Amherst’s other two hits. Springfield had five different players finish the day 1-for-3 in the loss.
The Pride will now gear up for its New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener on Friday afternoon when it hosts WPI at 2:30 pm.