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Gradillas, Hickey homer for Bulldogs in season-opening doubleheader

Chris Hook / HookPhoto
Chris Hook / HookPhoto

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University softball team fell in its two season-opening games in the Hillenbrand Invitational on Saturday morning at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Bulldogs fell to Troy, 5-2, in the opening matchup and Colorado State, 9-4, in the second game.

GAME INFORMATION

Troy 5, Bryant 2 (Gm1)

Colorado State 9, Bryant 4 (Gm 2)

Location: Hillenbrand Stadium (Tucson, Ariz.)

W|L|S (Gm 1): Graves (2-1) | McKeveny (0-1)

W|L|S (Gm 2): Petty (1-0) | Norris (0-1)

COACH LOTITO'S COMMENTS

"We still have some settling in to do on the mound, but I'm very excited," Bryant head softball coach Shayne Lotito said. "They're showing a lot of progress. This team is doing a lot of things right at the moment, but we need to clean up some areas. We're a young team, so there is going to be some growing pains, but we are going in the right direction and I like what I see from them.

"I like that Sarah [McKeveny] was able to find her rhythm. She did exactly what we knew she could do she could, and we're excited to see her grow into a great pitcher for us.

"Alex [Hickey] has been at the top of our order as a freshman and has been producing pretty well. Overall, I think she shows a lot of promise in the heart of our lineup. She's going to do some good things for us this year.

KEY MOMENT (Gm 1)

  • Troy would get on the board in the top of the first inning when Stephanie Snyder hit a grand slam to center field.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Gm 1)

  • The grand slam happened after the Trojans loaded the bases to open the game.
  • Freshman Sarah McKeveny (Bohemia, N.Y.) answered back, not allowing Troy to score again until the sixth inning. She would retire Troy down in order in the fourth inning, picking up one of her five strikeouts.
  • The Bulldogs answered back in the fourth inning when junior third baseman Jessica Gradillas (Nogales, Ariz.) homered in her return to the Grand Canyon state. Gradillas' home run was the first Bulldogs long ball of the season.

STATS (Gm 1)

  • McKeveny struck out five batters in her collegiate debut. Despite allowing five runs, only three were earned.
  • Freshman Alexandra Hickey (St. John, Ind.) doubled down the left field line for her first collegiate hit. She finished the game 1-for-2.
  • Senior Rachel Monroe (Southwick, Mass.) walked in both of her plate appearances in the game.

KEY MOMENT (Gm 2)

  • CSU's Tara Shadowen hit a three-run homer to right field to extend the Rams' lead to six runs.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Gm 2)

  • The Rams got on the board early, scoring runs in the first two innings, two via hit-by-pitch.
  • Junior Kaleigh Goulart (Marion, Mass.) got Bryant on the board in the third inning, flying out to the warning track in right field. She scored senior Robyn Ukegawa (Carlsbad, Calif.), who opened the inning with a double.
  • Hickey tied the game in the next at-bat, sending a laser to the left-field bleachers.
  • CSU would score in the next three innings before Bryant got a run back in the home half of the seventh.

STATS (Gm 2)

  • Ukegawa picked up two hits in her first official game of the season. She also walked and scored a run.
  • Goulart and Hickey each had two RBI for the Bulldogs. Goulart drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning to plate pinch-runner Sabrina Crane (Newtown, Pa.) from third.
  • Freshman Adriana Sanchez (Clyde, Ohio) pitched 1.1 innings in relief, allowing two hits and striking out a batter. She did not allow a run.

GAME NOTES

  • Bryant opened the season on Saturday after being rained out on Friday.
  • Freshman Morgan Powell (Murrieta, Calif.) had a hit in each game for the Bulldogs. She played both corner outfield positions on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Bryant will wrap up the Hillenbrand Invitational on Sunday when the Bulldogs take on host Arizona at 3 p.m. Mountain time. It will be the final game of the tournament.