Beverly, Mass. - May 9, 2009 - A pair of two-run homers in the seventh innings proved to be the difference as the Springfield College softball team downed Endicott College, 4-3, before topping Rhode Island College, 3-1, in a pair of elimination games at the 2009 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament on Saturday
The two wins, which remarkably evens Springfield’s record to 23-23, advances the Pride into a Sunday showdown with Coast Guard at noon. It will mark the sixth time this season that these teams have squared off. The winner of that game will advance to the sectional finals against Tufts at 2:00 p.m.
In its first game of the day against Endicott, Amanda Novak crushed a a two-run homerun to centerfield to lift the seventh-seeded seeded Pride past fourth-seeded Endicott, 4-3. The win advanced Springfield into Saturday’s late game against Rhode Island College.
The Gulls jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead as senior Casey Shanley (Billerica, Mass.) laced a triple off the right field wall, eventually scoring on an RBI bunt single from TCCC Player of the Year Merry MacDonald (Braintree, Mass.). The Pride would escape any further damage as Samantha Rhodes (Mendon, Mass.) got catcher Meghan Sargent (Salisbury, Mass.) to pop up behind home plate, and then got Hayley Hovhanessian (Farmington, Conn.) to ground out to second.
Springfield got on the board in the top of the fourth as the Pride worked a pinch-hit walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt and then a single by Angela Atkins (East Haddam, Conn.) to put runners on the corners with two outs. The following batter, Amanda Lyons (Eastchester, N.Y.) delivered as she cleared the bases with a two-RBI double to center, putting SC ahead, 2-1.
Endicott responded with a single run in both the fourth in the fifth innings, with the go-ahead run coming off a solo homerun to left by junior Jenna Lazar (Milton, Mass.). The shortstop's round-tripper just cleared the fence, as it bounced off the protective barrier around the outfield wall and settled safely on the other side.
The 3-2 lead held up until the top of the seventh, that is until the feel-good story of the tournament struck again. Springfield, the only sub-.500 team in the entire 59-team field, led off the frame with a Michelle Wlosek (Nutley, N.J.) single up the middle, setting the stage for Amanda Novak. Novak wasted no time coming through with the heroics, as she belted the first Jenna Bortolotti (Milton, Mass.) offering to left-center (high off the rocks behind the fence) for a two-run homerun, propelling the Pride to a come-from-behind win.
Then in SC's second game of the day, Atkins turned on a 2-2 offering from Rhode Island College’s Jenna Deveines (Lowville, N.Y.) and deposited a two-out, two-strike, two-run walk-off homerun to left field to lift the seventh-seeded Pride past the second-seeded Anchorwomen in another thrilling game for Springfield on Saturday.
The Anchorwomen were first on the board as sophomore Chelsea Panarelli (Shrewsbury, Mass.) hit a leadoff homerun to dead centerfield to give Rhode Island College as 1-0 lead. Springfield knotted the game at 1-1 in the fourth as Bryn Worrilow (North Babylon, N.Y.) doubled to left center, followed by a sacrifice fly to right from Tess Gagliano (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.) to plate a tagging Worrilow from third.
The score would remain tied all the way until the bottom of the seventh, when the Pride would once again provide last-inning heroics. Just like teammate Novak did against Endicott earlier in the day, Atkins drove a homerun to left field to lead the Pride to the victory. Gagliano singled to centerfield to get the rally started, followed by consecutive sacrifice bunts to put Gagliano on third with two outs. The move, which seemed to be a gamble at the time due to the fact that Springfield had just five hits on the day and was now banking on one in the seventh, came through in the biggest of ways as Atkins connected on the two-run walk-off round-tripper. It was a low-liner that just cleared the fence, although there was no doubt the game was going to be over either way as it easily cleared the left-fielder's head.
The win evens the Springfield record to 23-23 overall, while 2nd-seeded Rhode Island College ends its campaign with an impressive 42-7 ledger. RIC's two losses in this double-elimination tournament were both to the 7th-seeded Pride. SC thus advances to meet Coast Guard at 12:00 noon for the right to play Tufts University in the sectional finals.