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Seahawks score runs in last at-bats to sweep Corsairs

Nikki Vanelli, unseen in photo as she's mobbed by her jubilant teammates, touches home plate with her walk-off two-run home run in Salve Regina softball 4-3 victory in Game One with UMass Dartmouth. The Seahawks swept the Corsairs with a 6-5 win in the nightcap. (Photo by Jaime Wheeler)
Nikki Vanelli, unseen in photo as she's mobbed by her jubilant teammates, touches home plate with her walk-off two-run home run in Salve Regina softball 4-3 victory in Game One with UMass Dartmouth. The Seahawks swept the Corsairs with a 6-5 win in the nightcap. (Photo by Jaime Wheeler)

NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina University freshman Nikki Vanelli (Quakertown, Pa.) struck a two-out, two-run walk-off homerun to lift the Seahawks to a 4-3 final in Game One of a doubleheader with UMass Dartmouth at Toppa Field. The Seahawks (10-11) followed that victory with another come-from-behind thriller in the nightcap, 6-5, to sweep the Corsairs (11-13) in non-league action.

Salve Regina's entire pitching staff - sophomores Julia Coute (No. Dighton, Mass.), Jaycee Garrigan (Uxbridge, Mass.), Andi Nelson (Candia, N.H.), and Courtney Latta (Lowell, Mass.) - saw action in the twinbill with Garrigan and Latta getting the starts, and Coute (1-3) and Nelson (8-3) getting the winning decisions in relief.

Garrigan held the Corsairs scoreless through her first four frames of work, stranding five runners in the process which included wiggling out of a bases-loaded no out jam in the third when her counterpart, Jill Richards (Kingston, Mass.), lined to Kendall Duprey (Cranston, R.I.) at second base for an inning-ending double play. The Seahawks scored their first runs on a two-out, two-run double to left center for senior catcher Holly Kathios (Pelham, N.H.).

That two-run lead evaporated the next half inning when Garrigan issued a lead-off walk to the No. 9 hitter, Maddie O'Gryzek (Norfolk, Mass.), who stole second and came home on Rachel Pereira's (Dartmouth, Mass.) single. After a sacrifice, Kylie Fletcher (Dighton, Mass.) tripled in the tying run. Coute entered in relief of Garrigan, who shifted to left field defensively, and loaded the bases with back-to-back walks. Duprey made another sensational grab ranging into shallow centerfield and appeared to double off Fletcher who left third base to cross the plate before the catch. After much confusion, Fletcher was credited with scoring the go-ahead run while the final out got recorded at third base on a different runner.

Salve Regina third-year head coach issued a protest of the call after being denied an appeal. Another protest ensued in Game Two following a collision at first base.

Trailing 3-2 into the bottom of the seventh, freshman Emilee Angell (Whitinsville, Mass.) reached on an error with one out. After Richards struck out the next Seahawk hitter, Iaquinto inserted Allie Gusmano (Orange, Conn.) as a pinch runner. Gusmano rode home on Vanelli's winning blast to left field. For Vanelli, who swung at Richards' first pitch in the at bat, she recorded her third homerun of the season and her first basehit at Toppa Field. Coute kept the Corsairs scoreless in 2.2 innings for her first win in 2019.



Both teams scored runs in the opening frame of Game Two. Without the benefit of a hit, but rather two walks and two Seahawk errors, UMass Dartmouth had a 1-0 lead. Senior Amanda Riley (Barrington, N.H.) singled to centerfield to bring home her classmate Lindsey Florent (New Bedford, Mass.) who led off with a walk and stole second.

UMass Dartmouth built a 5-1 advantage after two runs in each of the third and fourth innings. In the third, singles by Averi Soares (New Bedford, Mass.) and Cierra Sheerin (Bridgewater, Mass.) wrapped around a run-scoring triple by Leah Major (Fairhaven, Mass.) for a 3-1 lead. Latta, who allowed only two earned runs, gave up a leadoff single to Nicole McSweeney (Bridgewater, Mass.) in the fourth. The Seahawks botched the sacrifice bunt by catcher Kaitlyn Hart (Norton, Mass.) before Latta was able to get the next two outs on a pop out to Angell at first base, and a fly ball to Florent in left. The latter play turned into a sacrifice fly for Soares, and the Seahawks threw the ball out of play to allow Hart to score.

Salve Regina scored twice in the fourth on a two-out double by Vanelli. Two more in the fifth on a two-out single by Megan Guest (Meriden, Conn.) tied the game at 5-5. Then with two outs in the sixth, Garrigan tripled before crossing the plate with the go-ahead run when Maddie Machado (Westport, Mass.) reached on an error. Nelson, who came in relief in the fourth, retired all but one batter she faced (leadoff walk in the seventh) to pick up her eighth victory of the season.

The Seahawks return to action on Saturday when they host Gordon College in a Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) doubleheader at Toppa Field at noon.