BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Rutgers softball team fell in its opening game of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Invitational to the University of Massachusetts, 6-0, on Friday morning at the FAU Softball Stadium.
Freshman Elaine Piniat (Scotch Plains, N.J.) made her second collegiate start for the Scarlet Knights, closing out the game retiring 12-consecutive batters. She tallied one strikeout and allowed seven hits. Piniat gave up four earned runs in the game. Senior Kristin Madoch (Glenview, Ill.) led the team with two hits, while Sarah Kalka (Moreno Valley, Calif.) had one hit for the Scarlet Knights.
UMass jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after the first inning, tallying four hits. Candice Molinari laid down a bunt to get on base for the Minutewomen and later scored on a single from Lauren Proctor. After stealing second, Proctor plated UMass' second run when Whitney Mollica doubled to right centerfield. The Minutewomen got their third run of the inning when Jessica Salato singled up the middle to score Mollica.
The Scarlet Knights went three-up, three-down in their first at bat as UMass' Brandice Balschmiter tallied two strikeouts in her 12th start of the year. In the Minutewomen's second at-bat, Rutgers retired the first three batters as Piniat forced both Whitney Williams and Amanda Morin into popouts to Kalka at shortstop.
After the Minutewomen forced the Scarlet Knights into three-straight outs in their next at-bat, Amanda Acampora drilled a solo home run over the left field fence to give UMass a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
Ashley Hartley (Chico, Calif.) walked with one out in the third, the first baserunner for the Scarlet Knights in the game. Junior Shantai Dixon (Sayreville, N.J.) reached base on fielder's choice after hitting a dribbler back at Balshmitter. Hartley was tagged out at second, but Dixon was able to reach first to avoid the double play. Sophomore Brittany Loisel (Gilbert, Ariz.) struck out swinging to end the RU at-bat.
In the fourth, Jessica Serio got her first collegiate hit, drilling a shot to right centerfield. The wind blew it away from Amanda Shaw (Yorba Linda, Calif.) in center field and it dropped in for a double. With runners on the corners, Williams stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Hartley, which also scored pinch runner Jackie Teman. Morin flew out to Shaw, scoring Williams and giving the Minutewomen a 6-0 lead.
Madoch tallied Rutgers' first hit of the game with a single through the left side with one out in the fourth. Madoch advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mallory Miller (Anaheim, Calif.), but Balshmitter recorded her fourth strikeout of the game and Kim Hodges (Houston, Texas) flew out to right field to end the inning.
The Scarlet Knights retired the Minutewomen's first three batters to open the fifth inning, but couldn't capitalize as UMass did the same in Rutgers' next at-bat, including the fifth strikeout from Balshmitter. After Rutgers, again, retired three-straight batters, the Scarlet Knights found themselves with their first chance to score, loading the bases in the sixth inning. With two outs, Madoch drilled a single through the left side, her second hit of the game. Miller reached on an error, to put two on base for RU. Kalka then singled, but Hodges flew out to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, the Minutewomen went three-up, three-down as Piniat closed the game retiring 12-straight batters.
Hartley walked in the seventh for RU, but Balshmitter struck out two more in the final inning to preserve the 6-0 UMass win.
Rutgers will play its second game of the day at 1:00 p.m. when it faces third-ranked Texas A&M at the FAU Softball Stadium in the Parent's Day Weekend Invitational at FAU.