BOSTON, Mass. – The Lesley University softball team needed two games Sunday afternoon to earn their seventh New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) title and trip to the NCAA Tournament. Senior right-hander Allyson Nisbet (Clovis, Calif.) tossed a complete-game, shut-out to lead the Lynx to the 3-0 victory over the Nighthawks in the winner-take-all championship game.
Senior rightfielder Mekenzi Golden (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) was named NECC Tournament MVP after posting a .632 batting average with two doubles, four homeruns and seven RBI. First year right-hander Sarah Bushman (Aurora, Colo.) also was named to the All-Tournament Team after recording a 3-1 record with a 1.04 ERAa and 25 strikeouts. Sophomore shortstop Abby Henderson (Rochester, N.H.) was the final Lynx player named to the All-Tournament Team after a weekend of outstanding defense in the middle infield.
Despite giving up a lead-off base-hit back up the middle by her counterpart in the other dugout, Nisbet was aided by tremendous defense by her battery mate. First year catcher Ally Murphy (Raynham, Mass.) gunned down sophomore right-hander Alina Milauskas' (Elkridge, Md.) attempt to steal second for the first out. It swung momentum over to Lynx as Nisbet was able to get the next two outs with ease.
For the second time on the day Golden gave the Lynx the quick one-run lead, opening the home half lining a laser over the left-centerfield fence. The Lynx threatened to score more. Senior third baseman Carlyn Barker (Temecula, Calif.) ripped a single back where it came from before scampering to second on a single through the left-side from Murphy. Sophomore first baseman Jordan Raab (Rochester, N.H.) continued to the inning with another base-hit through the middle but Nighthawk senior centerfielder Naomi Ricciotti (Phoenix, Ariz.) threw to second to erase Murphy. Milauskas was able to get Nisbet to pop out to shortstop to end the threat.
It proved to be enough for Nisbet as she toed the rubber for the start of the second inning. The Nighthawks were unable to do much of anything despite a two-out single from first year rightfielder Mallory Stefan (Thornton, Colo.). Nisbet got sophomore second baseman Tina Babcock (Ayer, Mass.) to fly out to rightfield to end the inning.
Following a one-two-three top of the third, the Lynx added an insurance run in the home half taking advantage of a Nighthawk error. Raab ripped a base-hit back where it came from to drive home Barker from third base to put the Lynx on top, 2-0.
The Nighthawks were threatening to push across one and cut the deficit in half with runners at first and second and two outs. But Nisbet relied on her veteran defense getting Stefan to pop out to third to end the frame and begin a stretch of nine straight Newbury batters retired by the Southern California pitcher.
Lesley tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the sixth to increase their lead to three. Junior second baseman Courtney Goggin (Cheshire, Conn.) began the inning shooting a line drive back up the middle. Three batters later following a base-hit by Golden and a hit by pitch by sophomore shortstop Abby Henderson (Rochester, N.H.), the Lynx had the bases loaded and one out for the meat of their order. Barker launched a towering foul fly to left field for the second out but in the back door came Goggin to make it 3-0.
Trailing by three entering their final at-bats, the Nighthawks were not giving up. Stefan roped an opposite field double into left field. But she was left stranded at second base as Nisbet struck out Babcock for the final out of the game give the Lynx their seventh conference title.
Game 1: Newbury 4, Lesley 3
It appeared as if the 2017 NECC Softball Championship was not going to need to go a second game. In the first game of the day, Lesley had full control of the game until the bottom of the sixth when Newbury put up a crooked number three to tie the game.
Golden began the day driving the first pitch she saw from Nighthawk game one starter, Stefan, over the leftfield fence to put the Lynx on the scoreboard, 1-0.
Milauskas began the home half of the frame helping her own cause drawing a lead-off walk. But first year right-hander Sarah Bushman (Aurora, Colo.) settled down and retired the next 14 batters she faced before issuing a walk to Babcock in the fifth.
Goggin provided her with run support lining a two-out triple to straightaway centerfield to bring in first year Patricia Muratore (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) for the second Lynx run in the top of the fourth. An inning later, Goggin drove in Muratore again with a single to centerfield to put Lesley on top by three.
Defensively, Bushman kept the Nighthawks off balance throughout the majority of the first game as she took a no-hitter into the top of the sixth. Milauskas broke up the no-hit bid lining a one-out single into centerfield and sparked a Nighthawk rally.
Sophomore backstop Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.) followed up shooting the ball up the middle and sent Milauskas to third in the process. The Nighthawks were threatening with runners at the corners and one out. Two batters later, Ricciotti came through in the clutch ripping a double to left-centerfield to bring home Milauskas but the Nighthawks were not done. First year leftfielder Ariana Gooden (Bakersfield, Calif.) lined a single to bring home both Ricciotti and Sass but the rookie outfielder was thrown out trying to stretch it into double. However the damage was done.
With a brand new ball-game, tied at 3-3 in the top of the Lynx went in order in the top of the frame. In the home half, Stefan led off with a double down the leftfield line which knocked Bushman out of the game. Stefan scampered to third on a passed ball before coming in to score the game winner on a fielder's choice by senior third baseman Lindsey Clark (Venice, Fla.).