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Softball splits Day 2 in Tucson with win over UTEP

Photo by: Tom O'Brien
Photo by: Tom O'Brien

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University softball split a pair on Day 2 of the Wildcat Invitational, falling to Colorado St., 7-1, before knocking off UTEP, 7-4, Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

GAME 1

For the second-straight contest, errors plagued the Bulldogs (4-4) as the Rams (7-11) scored seven unearned runs en route to the 7-1 victory.

After two scoreless innings, the Black and Gold got on the board first in the top of the third when senior Jessica Benacquista (Belleville, N.J.) reached base to start the inning. A Robyn Ukegawa (Carlsbad, Calif.) single put runners on first and second and a Liana Ogata (Tustin, Calif.) fielder's choice placed runners on the corners. During the subsequent at bad, the Bulldogs pulled off a double steal, scoring Benacquista to put Bryant up, 1-0, after three.

The Rams would match the run in the bottom of the fourth but most of the damage was done in the fifth when Colorado St. exploded for six runs, highlighted by a three-run homer by Jaelyn Manzanares, on its way to a 7-1 victory.

Madsen was dealt the loss but, the seven runs allowed during her five innings in the circle were all unearned, as she gave up just seven hits while striking out a season-high of five.

GAME 2

In the second leg of Bryant's Saturday doubleheader, the Bulldog offense was revived after a brief hiatus just in time to take down UTEP, 7-4.

After the Miners pushed a run across in the bottom of the first innings on a Ashley Eldrige sacrifice fly, the Black and Gold got down to business in the next half inning, tacking on four runs in the top of the second.

Freshman Cassie Mejia (Tucson, Ariz.) got things started playing in front of her hometown crowd with a one-out single to right field. After Bryant's second out of the inning, freshman Rachel Monroe (Southwick, Mass.) tagged her first hit of the afternoon with a base knock to right, putting runners on first and second. After Ogata reached on an error, senior Madeline Velasquez (Los Angeles, Calif.) earned herself a bases loaded walk to knot the score, 1-1.

In the next at bat, junior Haley Bottino (Canyon Country, Calif.) laced a single up the middle to give Bryant its first lead of the day just before a Madsen single to center drove home Velasquez to put the Bulldogs up 4-1.

In the top of the third, the Black and Gold added two more runs thanks to a Lauren Keast (Holliston, Mass.) two-run homerun to left field, driving in Taylor Burger (Killingworth, Conn.) who opened the inning with a leadoff single.

Bryant would tack on one more run in the top of the fourth off a Benacquista double, scoring Velasquez, to seal the 7-4 victory.

The Bulldogs wrap up play at the Wildcat Invite on Sunday with a true doubleheader vs. No. 15 Arizona at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.