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UMaine softball opens the season against UAlbany

The snow is starting to melt, the sun is setting later and the University of Maine softball team is playing home games; it is springtime in Orono. The Black Bears have been playing games since mid-February, but they have been across the country because it is essentially impossible to play outside in New England in the winter. They have played in tournaments in South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma and California where they compiled a record of 7-18. Last week they opened up the America East conference with two losses to Binghamton before finally returning home to host the Albany Great Danes. They split the doubleheader on Friday with an 8-7 extra-innings win in the first game and lost 8-0 in the second game. 

In the first game we saw a pitching matchup of Caitlyn Fallon for Maine going up against Wendi Hammond for Albany. Fallon started off on fire out of the gate by striking out the side in the first inning. In the bottom half, the Black Bears got multiple runners on but failed to capitalize. This was a theme for both squads in the first three innings with Maine stranding five runners on base compared to four for Albany. The fourth inning is when the scoring started for both teams with Sara Anderson knocking in Sierra Fretz with a base hit. In the bottom of the fourth, Kelby Drews hit a long-shot home run to left to tie it up. The Black Bears added on two more with a single from Katie Jo Moery and a sac fly from Anna Margettis to make it 3-1. In the top of the fifth Albany tied it back up after Morgan Petty was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded by new relief pitcher Alysen Rieth. Maddi Petrella then drove in another on a sacrifice bunt to make the score 3-3. Rieth replaced Fallon who went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 3 earned runs and 6 hits. 

Albany took the lead in the next inning as Jordan Nastos singled to drive in a run to make it 4-3 Great Danes. Maine forced extra innings off of a Mariah Pearson knock to left to drive in the tying run with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Albany added a pair in the top of the eighth off a two-run single from Nastos. The Black Bears looked to rally once again and they pulled through. Two errors in the Albany infield helped allow two runners to get on base and eventually score. The first came when the Albany shortstop missed a throw to get Moery on base and Grace McGouldrick was able to get to second. The next batter was Margetis who was able to get on with a twobase error by the third baseman and McGouldrick was able to score to cut the deficit to one. After a Jasmine Gray sacrifice groundout, Moery was able to cross home to tie it up. The next batter was Kelby Drews, who hit a screamer of a single to walk it off for the Black Bears. All three final runs were unearned to Wendi Hammond who went all 7 2/3 innings as she got the loss with Rieth picking up the win for Maine. McGouldrick had a stellar performance on the day by going 4-5 at the plate. 

The second game was not so kind to UMaine as they lost 8-0. The Great Danes scored 3 in the first inning off of Alexandria Gruitch. She lasted 3 1/3 innings on the mound and gave up 5 runs with 3 of them earned. Ava Zettlemoyer came in on relief and lasted 2 innings while allowing three runs, all off of home runs to Nostos and Petrella. Caitlyn Fallon was able to go the final two-thirds without giving up a run. The offense for Maine was not there for this one. The only baserunners came off of two walks. A split in an opening weekend is never a bad thing, and the Black Bears were able to pick up their first conference win of the season. They move to 8-21 overall and 1-3 in America East play and will travel to Bryant University next week to take on the Bulldogs.

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