Simmons takes Game 1, 5-1, but Wallace's heroics hold out hope for split

 CHESTNUT HILL, MA – Simmons bested Pine Manor, 5-1, behind seven strikeouts from Courtney Collier (Bolton, MA/Nashoba) in Game 1 of the teams’ Great Northeast Athletic Conference double header Friday evening. Game 2 was postponed in the eighth inning of a 5-5 game thanks to a seventh inning home run and two clutch plays at the plate from Pine Manor catcher Courtney Wallace (Steep Falls, ME/Bonny Eagle).

Getting her second start at first base this season, Jess Kennedy (Lakeville, MA/Apponequet) led off the game with an infield single, advancing to second on a Michelle Campbell (Baltimore, MD/Seton Keough) sac bunt. The red-hot Wallace (Steep Falls, ME/Bonny Eagle), who homered in three straight games entering Friday, pulled a single down the right field line, playing Kennedy from second.


Simmons answered with two, leading the bottom half off with back-to-back singles to center from Emily Nallband (Litchfield, CT/Litchfield) and pitcher Collier. Annie Thompson (Pacific Palisades, CA/Archer) followed with a triple to right, but Collier was gunned out at the plate on a Michelle Myers (Freeport, NY/Freeport) relay throw. The Gators returned the favor on an Ashley Wheeler (Nashua, NH/Nashua) line drive snared by Kennedy at first, who overthrew Siobhan Raymond (Winchendon, MA/Gardner) at third, allowing Thompson to trot home to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead.

Simmons struck with two outs an inning later, when No. 9 hitter Steph Murray (Groveland, MA/Pentucket) doubled down the line in left and was singled home by Nallband, putting Simmons ahead 3-1.

After the second, both pitchers settled down considerably. Pine Manor freshman Tia Nelson (Rockport, MA/Rockport) worked her way out of jams all day, stranding two Sharks in the second and fourth, and leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth, striking out Murray looking to keep it a 3-1 game after five.

The third time loading the bases was the charm, as the Simmons sticks provided some insurance for Collier in the sixth. A one-out Leah Derderian (Boylston, MA/Tahanto) single with the sacks packed scored the pitcher and Thompson, who finished 2-for-4, giving Collier more of a cushion than she needed.

Over seven innings, Collier allowed only five hits and struck out seven, including two in the seventh.

Nelson scattered 12 hits, allowing five runs, four earned, fanning three, walking three and hitting two.

Raymond went 2-for-3 for the Gators. Kennedy went 1-for-3 with a run, and Wallace went 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.

Collier scored in the first for a second game in a row, coming around from second on a Wheeler single. As Nelson did for Pine Manor in Game 1, Raymond worked her way out of an early jam in stranding two, keeping the Sharks within a run after one.

The Gators got the run back with some help from Simmons in the second. Shortstop Kayla Nielsen (Saco, ME/Thornton Academy) reached on a Thompson error, advanced on Thompson’s throwing error and scored on a Nelson single to left.

After relieving Raymond, Nelson helped herself with some more help from the Sharks. Wallace, this time, led off by reaching on an error, this one a Murray miscue. Again with two outs, Nelson knocked home Wallace with a single to right to pull the Gators ahead, 2-1.

Pine Manor put up two more in the fifth. After being hit by a pitch, Kennedy came around to score on a Raymond single. Then, with two down, Campbell was chased home by a Wallace single that put the Gators on top, 4-1.

Simmons got two back in the sixth, and it would have been more if not for Wallace. With the bases loaded following a Desiree Bourassa (Rochester, VT/Rochester) base on balls, Amanda Gould (Fremont, NH/Aquinas) doubled to right center, plating, Derderian and Thomas. With Bourassa being waved home, Nielsen took Campbell’s relay throw and gunned a one-hopper slightly up the third base line. Wallace scooped the throw, trapping it between her mitt and bare right hand and put the tag on a sliding Bourassa, holding on to the ball as the Gators held on to a 4-3 lead after six.

Her gritty defensive play soon turned into a two-run swing with just one swing. With one out, Wallace crushed a Collier offering over the center field fence for her fourth home run in the last five games, providing insurance that the Gators would soon need.

The bottom of the seventh began auspiciously, when the normally sure-handed Raymond booted a routine Murray chopper. A Kayla Nielsen fielding error let Murray in, then, after a force out and a pair of walks, Derderian stepped to the plate with runners at first and second and two outs trailing 5-4.

She lifted a high pop up to shallow left that, with Campbell converging from center, popped out of left fielder Flavia Vicente’s glove. Nielsen’s relay throw to the plate was on the money, and Wallace put the tag on Wheeler to send the game to extras.

With the game tied 5-5 going into the eighth, the game was called due to darkness. The game is set to be continued where it was left.

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