NEW LONDON, Conn.-Nine different Coast Guard players had at least one hit and one run driven in on the day as the Bears swept their home- and conference-opener against visiting Smith College. The Bears rolled to a 12-2 five-inning victory in game one, before holding on for a 4-2 win in the nightcap in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference softball action Saturday.
With the victories Coast Guard improves to 7-5 (2-0 NEWMAC) on the year, while a Smith team that was much-improved from a year ago falls to 4-6 (0-2 NEWMAC).
Game One: Coast Guard 12, Smith 2 (5 innings)
In the first game, senior Catherine Walker hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to bust the game wide open while freshman Kristine Kahl (4-2) pitched effectively, holding Smith to just three hits and runs (one earned) en route to her first career NEWMAC victory.
After falling behind 2-1 headed into the fourth the Coast Guard bats came alive. Starter Tori Brown issued a leadoff walk to junior Kaitlin Ward, then sophomore Natalie Spadafora recorded the first triple of her career to chase home Ward and tie the game at 2-2. A batter later, senior Stacia Sarwinski lofted a low hanging single to right field and advanced to second on the throw to give the Bears a 3-2 lead. Freshman Morgan Kingston followed that up with a single of her own before stealing second a batter later. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Walker and sophomore Kelsey Gray then pushed the Bears lead to 5-2.
Sophomore Erin Lisko recorded the first home run of her career in the fourth inning, a solo shot to left off freshman starter Tori Brown (2-3) – who took the loss in the circle for the Pioneers – to extend the Coast Guard lead to 6-2.
With the Bears leading 7-2 and the game more or less in hand Walker stepped up to the plate and delivered an opposite field grand slam to remove all doubt and extend the lead to 11-2 prompting a pitching change for Smith.
Freshman Hannah Ingerson led the Coast Guard attack with three hits on the game and also recorded two runs batted in, while Walker was responsible for plating five Coast Guard runs.
Game Two: Coast Guard 4, Smith 2
Freshman Sammy Yuknat (3-3) threw a complete-game five-hitter and surrendered two (earned) runs without issuing any free passes as she picked up her first career NEWMAC victory as well.
The Bears got things rolling in the first as Kelsey Gray led off with her second stand up double in as many games and came around to score two batters later as sophomore Jessie Richardson singled her home to plate the game's first run.
An inning later Kingston delivered an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence for her first collegiate home run and pushed the Coast Guard lead to 3-2.
Smith's freshman starter Gina Martucci (2-3) settled down after that, allowing only two runs (one earned) on 8 hits the rest of the way.
After a two-run sixth inning double by Brown cut the Bears' lead to just one at 3-2, Yuknat induced an unconventional double 6-3-5 double play to escape further harm.
Coast Guard scratched across an insurance run in the seventh courtesy of two-out single by Ward that chased home Lisko from second base.
Yuknat retired Pioneers in order in the bottom half as the Bears were able to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games.
Martucci pitched well for the Pioneers but was a victim of poor run support as she yielded four runs (three earned), eleven hits, and struck out two while yielding no walks.
Coast Guard returns to action on Tuesday, March 26th with a 3:30 double-header at Trinity College.
Post Game comments by Head Coach Donna Koczajowski