at Norfolk State
3/4/2022 | 4PM
ELON, N.C. – A total of four home runs over two games were enough to propel the UMass Lowell softball team to split its final day at the Phoenix Invitational hosted by Elon.
The River Hawks fell to Providence in the Sunday opener, 5-2, but bounced back and took down Morgan State, 9-4, to finish the weekend tournament with a record of 2-2.
Freshman Emily Tow (North Kingstown, R.I.) hit her second home run of the season in the morning matchup against the Friars. Three different players went on to hit their first homers against the Bears, helping to tally seven of the River Hawks scores in their final tilt of the weekend. Junior Brenna Davenport (Merrimack, N.H.) went 3-for-5 at the plate and earned an RBI. In the circle, junior Ryley White (Wareham, Mass.) struck out seven batters in her five and one-third innings pitched against Providence. Freshman Jen Slanovec (Bethlehem, Pa.) earned her first collegiate win by pitching a complete game against Morgan State.
Replicating day one of the invitational, graduate student Olivia Labbe (Rochester, Mass.) got the River Hawks on the board versus Providence by working her way around the base paths and scored from third on a wild pitch in the opening inning.
In UMass Lowell’s return to the plate, Tow battled her way to an eight pitch at-bat in her first appearance. With the count 3-2, she turned on a throw high and inside to send a home run over the left field fence, strengthening the River Hawk lead to 2-0.
Providence began to pressure in the bottom half of the inning. With runners at first and second, a straight shot down the third base line was nabbed by senior Tori Mueller (Clovis, Calif.), who threw over to Davenport at second to complete the double play.
White and the defense continued to retire hitters through the middle innings and hold Providence scoreless for much of the contest. The Friars eventually broke through in the sixth frame, scoring five runs to go on and claim the victory.
UMass Lowell faced an early 3-0 deficit in their bout with Morgan State after the opponent’s first appearances in the batter’s box. The River Hawks wasted little time battling back to grab the lead, however.
Labbe was able to cut into the Bears’ advantage by coming home on a fielding error. Just two batters later, sophomore Morgan Fisher (Glassboro, N.J.) seen her first pitch and drove it out of the ballpark for a three-run homer, flipping the script in favor of UMass Lowell, 4-3.
The Bears nearly knotted things up by sending a deep ball to the center field fence and giving a baserunner at first a chance to score. But quick thinking and execution by Labbe at the wall, shortstop Lea White (Meriden, Conn.) and Fisher completed the relay to make the out at home plate.
The River Hawks bolstered their lead by maneuvering runners into scoring position in the third frame. Davenport hit a sacrifice-fly to center field to buy enough time to bring in her teammate to add onto the lead.
In the top of the fifth, the River Hawks had two outs against Morgan State when a ground ball was hit to shortstop. Lea White fielded it cleanly but the throw over to first was a split second late, counting the scoring runner from third.
With UMass Lowell’s turn at the dish, two more home runs by sophomore Becca Vaillancourt (Tiverton, R.I.) and junior Cayla Tulley (Corona, Calif.) expanded the River Hawk advantage to 9-4. The score would hold through the Bears’ last two trips to the plate and UMass Lowell closed out the weekend with a win.
The River Hawks will have time to regroup and rest before they take part in the Spartan-Pirate Clash hosted by Norfolk State and Hampton. They open the trip to Virginia with a matchup with the Spartans on Friday, March 4 at 4 p.m.