LEICESTER, Mass. – Lesley University opened the day with an 8-0 victory over Newbury College to gain entry in the final round of the New England Collegiate Conference Softball Championship, but would see their run end at the hands of top-seed and host Becker College. The Hawks (27-10) finished the Tournament with a perfect 3-0 record as they bested the Lynx 8-0 in the second game of the afternoon to claim the NECC title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Lynx, who finished the Tournament at 3-2 with both losses coming to Becker, drop to 22-17 on the season and now await a possible at-large bid to a postseason tournament.
Lesley senior Selena Quezada (West Covina, Calif.), junior Carlyn Barker (Temecula, Calif.), and sophomore Kaera Wyse (Reading, Mass.) were each named to the All-Tournament Team. Becker sophomore Samantha Lee (Prospect, Conn.) took home the tournament's Most Valuable Player honor senior Kelsey Norberg (Uxbridge, Mass.) and freshman Jennifer ValAlphen were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Newbury senior Alyssa Donovan (West Haven, Conn.), freshman Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.), Regis College sophomore Amanda Navarro (Stoneham, Mass.), and senior Katie Cuozzo (Lynn, Mass.) rounded out the All-Tournament Selections.
Game One: Newbury 0, Lesley 8 (Final – 5 Innings)
Scoring was scarce to begin the opener until Lesley tacked up five runs in the bottom of the third to claim a 5-0 upper hand. The Lynx then added another solo score in the fourth before getting the two runs in the fifth needed to walk-off with the early ending.
Lesley freshman catcher Abby Henderson (Rochester, N.H.) was 2-for-3 at the dish with a three-run homer in the fifth. Her blast was her ninth of the season, tying the program mark for most in a season set by Georgia Saltzman '10 in 2007. Sophomore Courtney Goggin (Cheshire, Conn.) went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored while senior Selena Quezada (West Covina, Calif.) turned in a 1-for-3 showing with two RBIs and a run scored, and freshman Jordan Raab (Rochester, N.H.) finished 2-for-2 with a run scored.
Sophomore right-hander Kaera Wyse (Reading, Mass.) took the win from the circle, improving her season record to 17-14 as she gave up five hits and struck out three in the complete-game shutout. Newbury freshman righty Alina Milauskas (Elkridge, Md.) gave up just three earned runs in the loss (17-12).
Nighthawk senior Alyssa Donovan (West Haven, Conn.) was 2-for-3 in the effort while senior Elizabeth Fox (Orono, Maine), junior Naomi Ricciotti (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Milauskas were all 1-for-2.
Newbury threatened and got a pair on in the top of the third, with Fox bunting the ball between two Lynx players before advancing when Donovan roped a base hit to center. A sacrifice-bunt by senior Sheri Liggiero (Tewksbury, Mass.) moved both Nighthawks up before Newbury attempted to score with some aggressive base running. A well-hit grounder to second was collected by Goggin who fired to the plate where the runner was cut down with the tag play. Freshman catcher Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.) made good contact with two down, but it was right to junior first baseman Sydney Thayer (Reading, Mass.) for the final out of the inning.
Lesley responded and struck with five runs in the home half of the third to grab the first lead of the day. Lesley loaded the bases with the help of an NC fielding error and a sharply-hit grounder to the hot corner by Raab. Quezada then launched a double to the fence in right-center for the two lead runners to come in with the opening scores of the afternoon. Newbury would record two outs, including cutting down a Lesley runner at the plate, but Henderson stepped up to the plate and came through big, sending a towering shot over the fence in center field for the three-run homer and 5-0 Lynx lead.
The offense would continue in the bottom of the fourth when Raab ripped a shot off the glove of Newbury third baseman Alexis Vieira (Pawtucket, R.I.) followed a Goggin single to put Lynx at the corners. Newbury attempted to pick off Goggin at third, but the throw sailed into left as she came home to make it a 6-0 difference going into the fifth.
Lesley then chalked two in the home half of the fifth to invoke the run rule and close out the win. Goggin came through with a run-scoring single before Thayer ended it with an RBI single to center that allowed senior Jess Reynolds (Londonderry, N.H.) to cross the plate, sending the Lynx to the Championship Round.
Game Two: Lesley 0, Becker 8 (Final – 6 Innings)
Becker senior left fielder Jaclyn Orangio (Maynard, Mass.) went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, two runs scored and an RBI while Lee was 1-for-2 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. VanAlphen tallied a 1-for-3 showing at the plate with a walk and two runs scored in the win.
Norberg improved her record from the rubber to 17-3, striking out four while giving up just four hits and two walks. Wyse suffered the loss (15-7), striking out five as she surrendered three earned runs.
Schofield went 1-for-1 with a walk for Lesley while Barker and Reynolds both turned in a 1-for-3 performance. Thayer also went 1-for-2 for the Lynx.
The Lynx threatened to open scoring in the second inning as Reynolds led off with a single to before Thayer followed a sacrifice bunt with a single to center. Thayer stole second for a pair of Lynx to be in scoring position, but Norberg worked out of the jam with a strikeout and subsequent line out to second to keep the game scoreless.
The Hawks got on the board in the bottom of the inning with the help of a Lynx fielding mishap. Lee worked a walk to lead-off the frame, and sophomore Brianna Herforth (Peru, Mass.) executed the sac-bunt to move her Herforth up to second. Junior Ashley Ciepiela (Adams, Mass.) drew a second base on balls, and a grounder to the left went through the legs of the Lesley shortstop for Lee to score while Becker moved runners to second and third with just the one out.
Wyse got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but Orangio extended the inning by driving a run in with a single out to center to cap the scoring and give the hosts a 2-0 edge.
The Hawks would extend their edge to 6-0 in the bottom of the fifth. Two straight walks started the rally before senior Jessica Wheelahan (Watertown, Conn.) singled to load the bases. Freshman Megan Klemanchuck (Pawtucket, R.I.) followed with a fielder's choice that allowed Orangio to scoot home from third. Lee followed by punching a double to the fence in right for two Hawk runners to cross the plate and make it a 5-0 before the Hawks pushed across one more on a Lesley throwing error.
Lesley would try to manufacture a rally with consecutive one-out singles from Schofield and Barker, but Norberg once again came out unscathed, using a line out and a ground out to reture the Lynx in the inning.
Becker would end the game with two final runs in the bottom of the sixth to claim their first ever NECC Softball title.