AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst College junior Theresa Kelley went 2-for-3 and struck out 10 batters during a 6-4 win over Husson University in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship on Friday.
Kelley delivered a timely RBI and was one of four Amherst players with two hits on the day, but it was her performance in the circle that helped the Lord Jeffs advance in the double-elimination tournament. She gave up only one hit through five innings and allowed only one earned run in all, improving her to 19-2 on the year.
Husson scattered five hits on the day and made things interesting with four runs in the final two innings, but Amherst added two insurance runs in the sixth and played solid defense in the seventh. Victoria Overlock led the Eagles by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs as the only Husson player with multiple hits.
Making their first appearance in the national tournament since 1999, the Lord Jeffs (35-4) will take on either University of New England or Plattsburgh State University on Saturday at 9 a.m. in Game 8 of the Amherst (Mass.) Regional.
The Eagles drop to 33-12 and will face the loser of Plattsburgh-UNE today at 3 p.m. in an elimination game.
Kaitlin Silkowitz '14 got Amherst going in the bottom of the first by legging out an infield single and stealing second base. With two outs, Reilly Horan '13 dropped a bloop single into shallow right field, scoring Silkowitz for the game's first run. Carolyn Miller '14 followed with a double to the gap in right center, giving the hosts an early 2-0 lead against starting pitcher Becca McCarty.
The Lord Jeffs went right back to work in the second and added another two runs, as Kelley got things started with a double down the left field line. After Kelsey Ayers '15 reached on an infield single and stole second, Silkowitz bumped Amherst's lead to 4-2 with a two-run double down the left field line.
Kelley would be replaced heading into the top of the sixth after retiring 13 consecutive batters. The Eagles capitalized by loading the bases with nobody out, as a walk and a fielding error were followed by a bunt single from Deb Colpitts. Kelley re-entered the game for Amherst, but Overlock delivered a bases-clearing double that brought the score to 4-3 and quickly handed the momentum over to the Eagles.
With its lead cut to one, Amherst responded with a pair of big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Kelley helped her own cause with a single that got through the right side and brought home Miller, and Ayers pushed the score to 6-3 when she drove in Carly Dudzik '12 with a bases-loaded single to left field.
Husson didn't go quietly, as Lona Sargent's two-out double to left was deep enough to score Kayla Merrill from first base. That would be the final run, with Miller recording the third out in the top of the seventh when she reached over the fence along the third base line for a nice catch in foul territory.
Ayers, Silkowitz and Miller joined Kelley with two hits apiece for the Lord Jeffs. McCarty (L, 18-8) pitched all six innings for Husson, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts.
More information about the tournament and a complete schedule of games can be found on the Amherst Regional website.