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Softball sweeps Hartford to finish regular season

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By Aaron Cheris

Sports Editor

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May 5, 2015

The Great Danes will look to defend their title in the America East tournament. Photo by Aaron Cheris.
The Great Danes will look to defend their title in the America East tournament. Photo by Aaron Cheris.

   In their final home games at Albany Field for the 2015 season, the University at Albany looked to end the season on a high note going into the America East Conference tournament.

   They succeeded, sweeping conference opponent Hartford (3-43, 0-17 America East) in a three game series. On Friday, UAlbany (30-16, 11-6 America East) won 7-3 before an 8-0 blowout win in the nightcap. On Saturday’s senior day, UAlbany again won 8-0 to finish off a three game sweep.

   “Both pitchers really pitched well today, they both had no hitters going into the fifth,” UAlbany Coach Chris Cannata said on Friday. “It’s about us playing defense behind those pitchers too.”

   In the first game, it was freshman Erynn Sobieski’s pitching that gave the Great Danes a chance to take the lead early.

   In the second inning, UAlbany finally broke through on a double by center fielder Alexa Toole who scored two runs. A couple batters later, senior Vicky McFarland drilled a two out, two run double to extend the UAlbany lead to 4-0 after two innings.

   In the third, shortstop Maggie Cocks lied a solo home run over the left field wall to make it 5-0. Toole then drove in a run with a single to give UAlbany a 6-0 lead after three innings.

   That was more than enough run support for Sobieski. Through the first five innings, she allowed no hits and just two Hawks reached base.

   Trailing by seven runs in the sixth inning, the Hawks showed signs of life. Danielle DeMarco drove in the Hawks first run with a line drive single. With catcher Sawyer Fried at the plate and two runners on, UAlbany’s Kelly Costello couldn’t handle a line drive and was charged with an error that allowed two runs to score.

   Sobieski settled down after that to earn her 10th win of the season. She finished the game with just one earned run and four strikeouts.

   Hartford starter Kelsey Bird couldn’t get through the second inning as she took the loss with four earned runs.

   In the second game on Friday, UAlbany’s pitching was again the story. After sophomore Mackenzie Thompson pitched a scoreless first inning, UAlbany got on the board in the bottom half on Liz Snow’s run scoring single with two outs.

   In the second inning, UAlbany  doubled their lead on an infield single by right fielder Caitlin Cooper. On the play, Mackenzie Cleary hustled home second base on the ball hit to Hartford’s second baseman to score the second UAlbany run. A few batters later, Cocks had a chance with the bases loaded and two outs. She delivered with a line drive triple to center field. All three runners scored to give UAlbany a 5-0 lead after two innings.

   Thompson took control of the game on there, striking out five Hawks and allowing just one hit for a complete game shutout, her sixth win of the season.

   In the bottom of the fourth inning, McFarland ran for history in her final home series. After a single, McFarland proceeded to steal second and third base in the same at-bat, giving her exactly 100 stolen bases for her career going into Saturday’s senior day.

  “I didn’t even know that had happened,” McFarland said of her 100 stolen bases, which ranks second in program history. “Everyone was telling me congrats and I had no idea why.”

   Even though her teammates were the ones congratulating her, McFarland was quick to give back to them.

   “It’s on my teammates,” McFarland said. “It’s with help from my teammates that I got [100 stolen bases].”

   With a seven run lead in the sixth inning, UAlbany needed just one more run to end the game. In softball, if a team is leading by eight runs or more at the end of at least five innings, the game is over.

   After squandering an opportunity to end the game in the fifth, Snow drove in the final run of the day with a two out hit in the sixth, scoring McFarland with UAlbany’s eight run, capping an 8-0 win.

   Hartford’s Bianca Webb struggled in less than two innings of work, allowing four runs in the loss.

   Up next, UAlbany will head to Stony Brook for the America East conference tournament this weekend.    

   The Great Danes won the tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament last season, and they know what it will take to get it done again this year.

   “It’s going to take exactly what it took last year,” McFarland said. “It’s going to take all 19 people on our team to come together and win it.”

   “We just need to keep playing well and keep doing the things that we do well,” Cannata said. “Probably the team that is the toughest team is going to win the tournament. We’ve got to be tough.”

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