2014 NAC Softball Championships Day 3; Eagles Capture Sixth Straight NAC Championship

Bangor, ME – The third and final day of the 2014 North Atlantic Conference Softball Tournament began in the rain at O'Keefe Field on the campus of Husson University. After a partially completed inning in Game 9, where Husson was taking on Lyndon State in an elimination game, the officials suspended the game due to unplayable conditions. All games were moved to the Mahaney Dome at the University of Maine - Orono, and the tournament resumed.

Game 9: Husson 7, Lyndon State 1

The elimination game between top-seeded Husson and fifth-seeded Lyndon was restarted in the dome. Jess Poulin (Albion, ME) hit a big triple for the Eagles in the top of the second inning, which was followed by a Sami Schultz (Hermon, ME) single to give Poulin the first run of the game. Lyndon State answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the second as Jillian Emery advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Husson throwing error, tying things up at 1-1.

In the next inning, Breanna Martin (Oxford, ME) drove in Lyndsay Merrill (Bethel, ME) for a run. Casey Lopes (New Bedford, MA) sent Martin across the plate next, and then another triple from Poulin closed out the inning with a Lopes run, making it 4-1 in favor of Husson.

Martin, who went 3-for-4 on the day with three RBI, singled in the top of the fifth to send Allie Hill (Calais, ME) home. Lopes also singled later in the inning to drive L. Merrill across the plate again. Merrill went 4-for-4 in Game 9 and scored two runs for the Eagles.

The Hornets could not get on the board after the first, and Husson sealed the 7-1 win with a Martin home run in the top of the seventh.

Amanda Ryan (Brewer, ME)  went the distance pitching for the Eagles, giving up just 5 hits and 1 run in 7 innings, while striking out 4. Katie Davis pitched her fourth game of the tournament for the Hornets, giving up 14 hits and 7 runs.

With the win, the Eagles advance to Game 10 against Castleton. If the Eagles win, they force a Game 11. If the Spartans win, they will be crowned NAC champions. Game 10 is set to begin at 2 PM.

Game 10: Husson 3, Castleton 1

Castleton led for most of Game 10 after going up 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Tori Fearon homered to give the Spartans the early lead.

Kayla Merrill (Bethel, ME) was strong on the mound for the Eagles, giving up just three hits throughout the rest of the game after two hits in the first. Kayla Wood pitched a solid game for the Spartans, as well, conceding only three hits in 6.1 innings.

It was a pitchers duel through most of the second, third, and fourth innings. In the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles found themselves with three on base, but Castleton threw out Brennan at home, and Husson stranded three runners.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Husson tied up the score at 1-1, as the Merrill sisters teamed up to score a run. Kayla Merrill started the inning with a triple, and Lyndsay Merrill sent her home after reaching first on a Castleton error.

K. Merrill retired the side at the top of the seventh, and Nicole Andrade (New Bedford, MA) played the hero of the game, subbing in to replace an injured Schultz and hitting a huge walk-off home run to send Sarah Babin (Brewer, ME) across the plate and give the Eagles a 3-1 win.

With the win, Husson forces a Game 11 against the Spartans and battles for the NAC Championship.

Game 11: Husson 7, Castleton 5

The Husson University softball team rallied fived runs in the top of the 7th inning to capture their sixth straight North Atlantic Conference Championship beating Castleton 7-5.

The Eagles started the scoring in the top of the 2nd inning when Chelsea Brennan (Woonsocket, RI) singled to third base, and advanced to second on a Spartan throwing error.  Casey Lopes (New Bedford, MA) walked, and Brennan stole third base. Jess Poulin (Albion, ME) singled to bring Brennan in, giving the Eagle the 1-0 lead.

Castleton would match that score with a run of their own when Brittany Brayman walked, and Stephanie Sylvester doubled, advancing Brayman to third. Katie Gagne reached on a fielder's choice and batted in Brayman. Ruby Bushey singled through the left side bringing in Sylvester to grab the lead 2-0 for the Spartans.

Husson would tie things up in the top of the third when Allie Hill (Calais, ME) started the inning off with a double, and Brennan singled to bring her in with two outs.

Jessica Babcock homered to right field to give the Spartans a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 5th.

The Eagles had a chance to put some runs on the board in the top of the 6th when Brennan singled to left center. Sarah Babin (Brewer, ME) came into pinch run. Lopes would single up the middle, advancing to second on a wild throw to first, putting Babin at third base. Poulin would reach on a fielder's choice, and Babin was thrown out off the bag at third.

Husson pitcher Kayla Merrill (Bethel, ME) quickly retired the side in the bottom of the 6th grabbing a strike out in the effort.

The Eagles were down to their last three outs, and delivered in dramatic fashion. Breanna Martin  (Oxford, ME) reached first on a walk, with Mallory Conary (Warren, ME) coming into to pinch run. K. Merrill singled up the middle to advance Conary to third, with just one out. Lyndsay Merrill (Bethel, ME) doubled to right field, bringing in Conary and moving K. Merrill to third. The Spartans decided to intentionally walk Brennan who was 3-3 against Castleton pitched Katie Gagne. 

Unfortunately for Castleton, NAC Rookie of the Year Lopes was waiting on deck, and like she has all season Lopes delivered, singling up the middle bringing in both Merrill sisters and advancing Brennan to second. Poulin singled to center field, advancing both base runners and loading the bases. Haley Spiers (Rochester, NH) doubled to center field to add two more runs, setting the Husson lead at 7-4 heading into the bottom of the 7th.

Castleton's first batter, Brooke Naylor homered to left field closing the gap to 7-5 Husson. Husson's Amanda Ryan (Brewer, ME) came into relieve K. Merrill, and recorded the final two outs for the Eagles, who clinched the victory.

"There is no better feeling than the one we're feeling right now.  Our kids came through in the craziest of circumstances and they came out on top.  I can't express how proud I am of this group of girls, they fought every step of the way and never gave up sight of the title," said Head Coach Kristie Hawkins, "We knew if anyone could do it, it was us we just had to play our game.  This is what it's all about and we are excited to continue this ride we're on!" 

K. Merrill pitched 6.1 innings for the Eagles, grabbing the win and NAC Tournament MVP Honors, while Ryan grabbed the save and an All-Tournament nod. Poulin grabbed the other All-Tournament spot for the Eagles.

NAC Softball All-Tournament Team

Andrea Williams – Johnson State

Hannah Lust – UMaine-Farmington

Alyssa Eugley – Thomas

Jena Finnegan – Lyndon

Kayla Wood – Castleton

Tori Fearon – Castleton

Stephanie Sylvester – Castleton

Jess Poulin - Husson

Amanda Ryan – Husson

MVP: Kayla Merrill - Husson

Husson secures the right to advance on to their sixth straight NCAA Tournament. Media is invited to join the team as they find out their next opponent, during the NCAA D3 Selection Show, inside of the D. Bruce MacGregor Hall of Fame Room inside of Newman Gymnasium at 10 AM tomorrow.