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Lesley wins second NECC title in dramatic fashion

Lesley wins second NECC title in dramatic fashion

Story courtesy of Rob Palardy, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

BOSTON, Mass. – A sacrifice fly by Lesley junior Alyson Durben (STOW, Mass./Nashoba Regional) that scored Jessica Guevara (NANTUCKET, Mass./Nantucket) in the eighth inning against Elms College, lifted the Lesley University softball to a 4-3 triumph and the 2010 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) softball championship.  The Lynx, who earned the #1 seed coming into the tournament, held up their ranking and earned their second consecutive NECC title.

NECC Semifinal – Mitchell 1, Elms 4

Mitchell College and Elms College faced off to determine who would earn the right to face Lesley in the NECC Championship game and the Blazers defeated the Mariners 4-1.  Despite being outhit 7-2 by the Mariners, Elms was able to score four runs in the bottom of the third to fuel their offense to victory.

Elms hurler Courtney Hampton (WESTFIELD, Mass./Westfield) struck out 12 batters in 7.0 innings while giving up just one run the game.  Hampton improved to 13-6 on the season with that dominating performance.

In the bottom of the third, Mitchell pitcher Kristina Torres (GROTON, Conn./Fitch) got two quick outs before Elms began their four-run rally.  A walk and a single put two runners on, then an error by the Mariners shortstop loaded the bases for Blazers senior Ally Graffum (IPSWICH, Mass./Ipswich).  Graffum drew a walk to bring in the games first run, then Sarah Buckley (WILBRAHAM, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) knocked a two-RBI single to right field.  An error on the relay throw in force another run home and the Blazers were up 4-0. 

Torres finished the game with 6.0 innings pitched with six strikeouts while allowing four unearned runs on two hits and two walks.  She dropped to 11-9 on the season.

Mitchell got a run back in the top of the fifth after Marissa Thomas (NEW LONDON, Conn./Saint Bernard) drove home Britney Zaccaria (WHITE PLAINS, N.Y./Maria Regina) with one-out single.  Zaccaria had reached with a single up the middle to lead off the inning. 

The Mariners threatened in the top of the seventh after back-to-back hits by Zaccaria and Michelle Anderson (SCOTLAND, Conn./Parish Hill) to lead off the inning.  Hampton, however, got two strikeouts and a groundout to end the game. 

NECC Championship Game One – Elms 9, Lesley 0 (5 inn.)

Elms carried the momentum from their victory over Mitchell into the first game of the NECC Championship, beating Lesley 9-0 in five innings.  The win forced a final deciding game to determine the conference champion.

The Blazers scored nine runs on nine hits and took advantage of four Lesley errors in the shutout win.  Leading the way for Elms were Jenna Lipscomb (CAMBRIDGE, Mass./Lawrence Academy) and Rachel Butt (AGAWAM, Mass./Agawam) who each had two RBIs a piece. 

In the top of the first, the Blazers scored three runs on an RBI single by Buckley and a two-RBI triple to left center by Butt.  Elms added two more runs in the second inning on a triple to right center by Tiffany Williams (BERLIN, Conn./Berlin) and an RBI single through the left side of the infield by Lipscomb.  

After another run scored on an error in the fourth inning, Elms tacked on three more in the top of the fifth on two hits and three errors by the Lynx.  Destinee Meeker (BANTAM, Conn./Litchfield) had an RBI single to right in the inning.

Lesley managed just three hits on offense in the game and sophomore hurler Cassandra Knox (SEA CLIFF, N.Y./North Shore) took the loss, dropping to 21-8 on the season. 

NECC Championship Game Two – Elms 3, Lesley 4 (8 inn.)

With a  difficult loss behind them, the Lynx refocused both offensively and defensively in what would be an intensive final game against the Blazers.  Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the eight, Lesley plated the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by Durben and won the game 4-3 to win the 2010 NECC softball championship.

Lesley came out in the top of the first inning ready to improve their defense and sophomore third baseman Jenna Fralick (WOBURN, Mass./Woburn) showed that with a diving backhand and cross diamond putout to get the inning's second out.

Offensively, the Lynx scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 3-0 lead.  Junior Chelsea Quackenbush (EAST HAMPTON, Conn./East Hampton) led off the inning with a hard-earned walk then advanced to second on a single by Emily Mangiaratti (AMHERST, Mass./Amherst Regional).  After an out, Jodi Fralick (WOBURN, Mass./Woburn) hit a single up the middle as Quackenbush raced around third to score the game's first run. 

The most damage in the inning was done by Durben who hit a line drive shot into the right center field gap to score two more runs and ended up on third base. 

Elms started to chip away at the Lesley lead in the next inning thanks to Marlene DiRaimo (CRANSTON, R.I./St. Mary Academy) who hit a triple to right center to plate Buckley for the first Blazer run. 

In the top of the fifth, the Blazers crept closer after Lipscomb's double over the left fielder's head scored another run to make it 3-2 in favor of the Lynx. 

Needing just three outs in the top of the seventh to seal the win and the championship, Lesley gave up a game-tying RBI double to Kim Lastowski (TURNER FALLS, Mass./Turner Falls) that scored pinch-runner Danielle Gero (HOLYOKE, Mass./Holyoke).  The Lynx escaped the inning with some crucial defensive plays, including a throw out at home by Guevara. 

Lesley did not score in the bottom of the seventh and Elms failed to advance the runner placed at second base in the eight inning, according to international tie-breaker rules, giving the Lynx a chance to win the game in the bottom of the eight.

With Guevara on second, Jodi Fralick hit a bunt single to push the runner along to third setting up Durben for the game-winning sacrifice fly to right field to win the NECC Championship for the second year in-a-row.

Knox improved to 22-8 after going 8.0 innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits and three walks.  Hampton dropped to 14-7 pitching 7.1 innings with eight hits and four runs, three earned, given up while walking two and striking out one.

Lesley now stands at 25-11 and will wait for a possible Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) bid for additional post season play.  Elms ends their season at 20-17 and Mitchell at 22-14. 

NECC Championship All-Tournament Team

Most Valuable Player – Cassandra Knox, So., P, Lesley University

Jodi Fralick, Sr. C, Lesley University
Alyson Durben, Jr., OF, Lesley University
Courtney Hampton, So., P, Elms College
Ally Graffum, Sr., 2B, Elms College
Sarah Buckely, Fr., 1B, Elms College
Nikki Hoxie, So., 2B, Mitchell College
Kristina Torres, So., P, Mitchell College
Sarah Gates, Sr., OF, Bay Path College
Jessica Nizinski, Sr., P, Bay Path College