GAME #1 at Potter Field
Springfield, Mass. - April 23, 2009 - Senior Aimee Cassella went 2-3 with three RBI as the Springfield College softball team defeated Babson College, 5-4, in its opening game of the 2009 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship on a blustery, Thursday afternoon at Potter Field.
The Pride, which improved to 16-21 with the win, was originally supposed to battle Babson at Coast Guard, but due to wet field conditions, the game was moved to Springfield. The Pride will now take on top-seeded Coast Guard at 4:45 on Potter Field. Babson still lives for another day in this double elimination tournament. The Beavers will play at 10 am Saturday at Coast Guard against either #2-seeded Wellesley or #3-seeded Clark.
It didn't take long for Babson to set the tone early as it plated two runs in the top half of the opening frame. After Courtney Thurston singled to lead off the game and then stole second, she came around to score after Jessica Pashos' deep fly ball was dropped by the Springfield right fielder. The visitors tacked on another run as Annie Dursema singled to left to plate Pashos.
The Pride answered right back with two runs of its own to even the game at two after one inning of play. Angela Atkins led off the inning with a walk but couldn't advance after Amanda Lyons' couldn't get her bunt down, popping out to Pashos. However, Cassella then crushed a two-run homer to right field despite the win blowing directly into Potter Field. That tied the game.
Springfield took the lead in the third after scoring a run. Once again, Cassella's work at the plate was the difference as she singled in Atkins, who had originally reached on an error by Pashos.
Babson knotted the game at three-all in the top of the fourth as it took advantage of a lead off triple by Nicole Latini down the right field line. Kaitlyn Clark then found a hole on the left side of the Springfield infield as she knocked home Latini with a single.
The Pride took the lead for good in the fourth as Atkins came up in the clutch. After Samantha Rhodes reached on a single and advanced to second on a passed ball, Tess Gagliano drew a base on balls. With two outs, the duo each advanced a base on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third, Atkins didn't disappoint with a two-RBI single into center to give SC a 5-3 advantage.
Things got very interesting in the sixth as Babson appeared to mount a serious comeback. After Latini started the inning with a pop out to second base, Dursema and Clark each singled down the left field line. The Beavers got another single to center by Kayla Davis to load the bases. Pinch hitter Brittney Russo entered the game and drew a walk, forcing in pinch runner Jillian Smith, Still with only one out, the Beavers had the bases loaded, but D'Agostino's bunt was caught by Cassella to tame the threat. Rhodes got out of the jam as she got Thurston to fly out to center.
Springfield went quietly in the sixth, and despite a single by Pashos in the seventh, the Beavers were unable to plate a run as Springfield held on for the 5-4 victory.
Danielle Liska took the loss as she allowed five runs, four earned, off just five hits, while striking out five and walking a pair. Rhodes picked up the win as she scattered 10 hits, while giving up four runs, two earned.
Babson held a 10-5 advantage in hits in the contest as nine different players recorded a hit, with Dursema and Clark each registering a pair.
Cassella had a pair of hits for SC in the win, while Atkins and Rhodes added the other base knocks.
GAME #2 at Potter Field
Springfield, Mass. -- April 23, 2009 -- With Springfield edging Babson, 5-4, in the first game of the day at Springfield's Potter Field, it was #1-seeded Coast Guard's turn to take center stage. The Bears entered the game with a 32-2-1 overall record, a 15-0-1 NEWMAC conference record, and a 29-game winning streak.
But it was Springfield, the defending NEWMAC Tourney champion, which maintained the momentum, upsetting Coast Guard 3-1. It was Coast Guard's first loss of the season in regulation. The Bears had not lost since falling to Shenandoah of Winchester, Virginia, 2-1, in 8 innings on March 11. Coast Guard's only other loss had come to Shenandoah, 10-5, in 9 innings on March 10.
The game promised to be a pitchers' dual between Coast Guard freshman Hayley Feindel (River Ridge, La.) and her 27-1 overall record and her 0.82 ERA, and senior lefthander Samantha Rhodes (Mendon, Mass.), All-NEWMAC First Team a year ago, and winner of the earlier Babson game. Just last Saturday, the two had hooked up in game #1 of a doubleheader at Coast Guard, with Coast Guard coming from behind to win, 5-4, in 9 innings. Rhodes had a career-high 14 strikeouts in that contest.
The game was living up to its billing. As the #1 seed, Coast Guard was the home team, even if the game was at Potter Field. Feindel was destined to strike out 13, including four In the top of the second inning (which included a runner reaching first base on a wild pitch). Through four innings, the game was scoreless.
But in the top of the fifth, senior CF Angie Atkins (East Haddam, Conn.) doubled to left field. Senior LF Amanda Lyons (Eastchester, N.Y.) then walked. Senior 1B Aimee Cassella (Southington, Conn.) grounded to third, moving the runners up. Junior catcher Michelle Wlosek (Nutley, N.J.) then lashed a single to center field, for the big hit of the day, knocking in both runners. Finally, following another ground out, sophomore DH Amanda Novak (Cos Cob, Conn.) singled to center, plating the third run of the inning.
Coast Guard replied in the bottom of the sixth with its lone run of the day, and it could have been more. After one out, senior CF Annette Boston (Oceanside, Calif.) singled and advanced to second on an error by the right fielder. Sophomore catcher Amanda Frederick (Lebanon, Ohio) then singled, plating that run, and going to second on the throw. What followed was one of the plays of the day. Junior 3B Courtney Wolf (Fredericksburg, Md.), the clean-up hitter, laced a shot to the gap in left center, but SC LF Lyons made an outstanding, diving catch. A ground-out to short produced the final out, and SC led, 3-1, with an inning to go.
Cassella singled to right in the top of the seventh, but could go no further.
In a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Rhodes induced two pop-ups and a ground-out to secure the upset victory. Rhodes improved her record to 9-9, allowing the one run (unearned) on five hits. She struck out three, and walked one in hurling the complete game, her second of the day.
Feindel also pitched a complete game, giving up three runs (all earned) and eight hits, while striking out 13 and walking just one. Her record fell to 27-2.
Springfield, the #4-seed, improves to 17-21 overall. SC will next play versus #2-seeded Wellesley at Coast Guard at 2 pm Saturday. Wellesley was an 8-0 winner over Clark in 6 innings at Wellesley earlier today.
Coast Guard, the #1 seed, and now 32-3-1, will play #6-seed WPI at 12 noon Saturday in New London. This is a double-elimination tournament.