Bangor, ME – Top-seeded Husson University softball earned the right to host the 2014 NAC Softball Championships from Friday, May 2 to Sunday, May 4. The tournament is set in a six team double elimination format, and Husson kicked off day two with a 10 AM game on Saturday against the Beavers of UMaine Farmington.
Game 5: Husson 7, UMaine Farmington 2
In the bottom half of the first Husson put the first tally on the board. With two outs, Lyndsay Merrill doubled down the left field line and scored a play later when Breanna Martin reached on a throwing error. Merrill had already advanced to third and scored on the errant throw.
Farmington fought back in the top of the second, threatening with bases loaded and no one out. Hannah Lust, Kennadi Grover and Meryl Bond all singled before Husson could record an out. Head coach of the Eagles Kristie Hawkins came out to talk to pitcher Amanda Ryan, leading to a big strikeout in the next at bat of Alison Hamilton. The Beavers managed the knot the score as Ryan induced a groundout of Jillian Withee in the next at-bat, scoring Devin Fitzgerald. Ryan battled out of the big time jam nicely, getting Shelby Bryant to pop up for the third out.
Husson untied the 1-1 score in the bottom half of the third. Newly-named NAC pitcher of the year Emily Soule retired Kayla Merrill and Allie Hill for the first two outs before Lyndsay Merrill hit yet another extra-base hit. Merrill tripled this time, setting herself up to score later on a Martin single to short.
The Beavers were held scoreless in the top of the fourth with help from a fantastic play at short by Jess Poulin. Poulin ranged to her left, slid to collect the ground ball with the backhand and fired to first on one knee to keep Farmington off the bases.
In the bottom half of the fourth frame, Husson pushed across three more runs. Sami Schultz homered for the first Eagle run, clearing the left field fence by several feet. Kayla Merrill joined the party again, singling with two outs to restart the Eagle rally. Merrill advanced to second on an Allie Hill walk, and promptly scored on a Lyndsay Merrill single. Merrill, through four, was a home run away from the cycle with an RBI and two runs scored.
Husson scored for the third consecutive inning in the fifth. Poulin singled, advanced on a passed ball and scored on a Schultz double. The Eagles pushed their lead after five full to 6-1.
The Beavers battled back and threatened in the sixth but stranded two in scoring position. Hannah Lust singled and Bond doubled to left, but Ryan struck out pinch hitter Haley Berry and got Withee to fly out to center for the third out.
Lydnsay Merrill offered up her bid for the cycle in the sixth, driving a ball to deep right center. Merrill rounded second easily and looked to possibly score the inside-the-parker, but held at third. Merrill and the Eagles scored their seventh run off the bat of Casey Lopes who singled through the left side to plate Merrill.
Farmington added a run in the seventh after putting two aboard at first and second. Bryant singled and Amy Jones reached on a error. Katie Clark also reached on an error in the next at-bat to score Bryant to make it 7-2. The Beavers continued to threaten, but Ryan held them to the 7-2 make to pick up the win.
Ryan gave up eight hits and an earned run in her seven complete innings while striking out six. Soule for UMF went six innings while giving up five earned on 13 hits and a walk with a strikeout.
"The girls wanted this game today and came out and showed everyone just that," said head coach Kristie Hawkins after the game. "They had something to prove and that motivation is what led us through the game. We were fired up and revenge is what we wanted. We couldn't be more proud that they came out strong and stayed hot the whole game. Good things come from games like this and the motivation and fire is what will lead us through this tournament."
With the win, Husson will play at 4:00pm Saturday afternoon while Farmington is eliminated from the NAC tournament.
Game 6: Castleton 9, Thomas 2
Castleton picked up three runs to begin the top of the first of game two. Tori Fearon doubled to left and scored in the next at-bat on a Jessica Babcock single. Brittany Brayman and Babcock scored after a single for Brayman up the middle of her own followed by a Chelsea Grady 2RBI single.
The visiting Spartans, by way of being the home team and Thomas being the away team in their games Friday, scored solo runs again in the second and third. With two outs in the second, Kristi Lawless reached on an error by the shortstop. Fearon stepped in and scorched one down the left field line that got passed the left fielder Taylor Bergeron. Fearon was credited with a single and both she and Lawless were given two bases on the error.
With the score 4-0 in the top of the third, Castleton struck yet again. Stephanie Sylvester singled to short and scored on a Grady double to left center to make it 5-0.
Thomas plated two in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Spartan lead to three. Courtney Veilleux led off with a walk and advanced a base when Lauren Hachey reached on an error. Kelsey Crowe singled to score Veilleux and advance Hachey to second. Hachey scored moments later for the second Thomas run on a Nicole Ryder single, yet again right up the middle.
The Spartans grabbed another run in the top of the fifth on a triple by Babcock. Sylvester batted Babcock in with one out, grounding out to second to first.
Castleton poured on more in the top of the sixth, scoring runs from Ruby Bushey, Veronica Arnone, and Kristi Lawless on four hits and a Thomas error. The Spartans left the bases loaded with a 9-2 lead.
The Terriers led off the bottom of the seventh, down seven, with a 3-2 walk by right fielder Kate Thibodeau. Chelsea Hale pinch hit for Ashlee Quirrion and struck out looking, followed by a pinch-hit single by Gabrielle Martell. Hachey singled to left to load the bases with two outs, but Arnone struck out Taylor Jordan to pick up the save and the win.
With the loss, Thomas has to turn around and immediately play Lyndon in an elimination game at approximately 3:00pm today. With the win, Castleton will play Husson in a matchup of unbeatens in the final game of day two in Bangor.
Game 7: Lyndon State 8, Thomas 0 (5 innings)
The Lyndon Hornets put up a seven spot on the Terriers in the bottom of the first, en route to an 8-0 elimination game win in five innings. Katie Davis picked up the win for the Hornets, allowing just four hits in five while striking out one.
Kelsey Crowe allowed all eight runs (five earned) on nine hits and a walk while fanning three. Taylor Jordan pitched the final inning and a third for Thomas with zero's across the board.
The Hornets managed four scoring plays in that first inning. Shelby Sheridan and Dakota Crane scored the first two on a Jena Finnegan triple to right center. Pitcher Davis singled through the right side to score Finnegan moments later and Katie Ste. Marie single to right as well, scoring Taylor Young and Davis. Lyndon made it 7-0 with some Thomas help. Shelby Sheridan singled to left and advanced to second, Barski moved to second and then scored along with Ste. Marie on a tough error.
Lyndon tacked on their eighth run, good enough to activate the eight-run mercy rule, in the third on as Finnegan stole second allowing Crane to steal home.
For the Terriers, Courtney Veilleux led the charge with two of their four hits. Korrie Laren and Faith Robinson rounded out the hit category, respectively.
Finnegan and Ste. Marie each had two RBI for Lyndon, while Taylor Young went 2-3 with a run scored.
Lyndon shut out Thomas in the final two innings and took the win to advance to Championship Sunday.
Game 8: Castleton 5, Husson 1
In the top of the first Tori Fearon single to right with one out and advanced to third on a Jessica Bobcock double to left. Brittany Brayman struck out swinging for the second out, but Stephanie Sylvester lined one up the middle to score the two base runners for a 2-0 lead after one.
Castleton made it 4-0 in the second on a two-run bomb by Ruby Bushey. Kayla Wood walked the play before and scored on the homer by the right fielder. Kayla Merrill took to the pitching circle for Husson after the four-bagger, and got Kristi Lawless to ground out and Babcock to line into a double play at second. Lyndsay Merrill made a nice play to snag the line drive and flip to first for the final two outs.
The Eagles put their first offensive bid forward in the top of the third. Haley Spiers led off with a line out to right that looked certain to fall for hit off the bat. Mallory Conary single to left with one out and Kayla Merrill popped up to short for the second. Allie Hill then tripled to left center, scoring Conary. The safe call of Hill at third didn't come without controversy as the throw from left beat Hill easily, but the tag didn't however.
Brayman and Katie Gagne put charges into balls for Castleton in the bottom half of the inning. Brayman's went all the way to the wall in left and Gagne's took Conary to her final step of the warning track in center for the final out.
Both teams were scoreless until the bottom of the fifth, when Babcock doubled down the right field line. Lyndsay Merrill bobbled a grounder at second from Brayman allowing her to reach and Babcock to score on the late throw to first. Chelsea Grady stepped in and hit a fly ball to Haley Spiers in left for the second out. Spiers threw an absolute pea to the plate to cut down Brayman at home for the third out.
With a slight bit of momentum, the Eagles couldn't do anything with a couple on in the sixth and a runner on in the seventh.
"Castleton came out hard today and, although it puts us in a tougher spot, we're not out of this by any means," said Husson head coach Kristie Hawkins. "This loss lights a fire for our players and motivates us to get after it tomorrow. We're going to take it one pitch and one game at a time and put forward our best effort. I have all the confidence in the world in this group, and I'm excited to see what they'll bring tomorrow."
Castleton moves to a definite spot in the championship Sunday afternoon. Husson will play Lyndon at 10:00am in an elimination game, and the winner will have to beat the Spartans twice in a row for the NAC crown.
Day 3 Match-Ups:
Game 9, 10 AM: Husson vs. Lyndon State
Game 10, 12 PM: Castleton vs. Winner of Game 9
Game 11, 2 PM (if necessary): Castleton vs. Winner of Game 9