NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. – The seventh-seed Elms College softball squad fell to second-seeded Newbury College, 10-1, in the opening round of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship tournament Wednesday night at the New Englad Baseball Complex.
Newbury will play the winner of third-seed Lesley University and sixth-seed Bay Path University on Friday April 29th at 10:00 a.m. in Leicester, Mass.
Although both squads made consistent efforts the contest went scoreless throughout the first two innings, as the Blazers were able to hold Newbury off of home plate in the second despite the Nighthawks placing runners in scoring position on second and third. However, Newbury was able to get on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the third capitalizing on an Alyssa Donovan (West Haven, Conn.) triple that was brought in by a Sheri Liggiero (Tewksbury, Mass.) bunt.
The Blazers fought back producing their first and only run during the top of the fifth. The stint started with a Raeanna Tumel (Stafford, Conn.) single to left field, followed by Kierston Skinner (South Windsor, Conn.) reaching on a fielder's choice as the Nighthawks were able to tag Tumel for the initial out at second base. Tessa Cote (Granby, Mass.) continued pushing for the Elms squad singling to left field to drive Skinner to the second base bag. From there a Madison Messier (Warren, Mass.) single to third would give Skinner enough time to make it home to post a notched 1-1 scoreboard.
After the Blazers knotted up the ballgame at 1-1 in the top of the fifth, Newbury senior second baseman Elizabeth Fox(Orono, Maine) ignited a five-run rally in the home half of the frame. Fighting off eight pitches, Fox connected on the ninth pitch from Elms junior starter Tessa Cote (Granby, Mass.) for an infield single to bring the line-up back around to the top. Lead-off hitter, senior shortstop Alyssa Donovan (West Haven, Conn.) ripped a base-hit back where it came from then scooted to second on an error as Fox came around to score the game-winning run.
Three batters later, with runners at the corners and one out, first year power hitter Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.) took a pitch the opposite way to bring home Donovan to give the Nighthawks the 3-1 lead and knock Cote out of the inning. Coming on in relief, first year Raeanna Tumel (Stafford, Conn.) quickly got first year third baseman Alexis Vieira(Pawtucket, R.I.) to pop out to shortstop for the second out. With the bases juiced following walk to first year Alina Milauskas (Elkridge, Md.), there was no place to put, junior first baseman Liz Kia (Kea'au, Hawaii), who has had a history of clutch base-hits this season. Kia came through once again, driving a pitch to the base of the right field fence to give the Nighthawks the 6-1 advantage.
An inning later in the bottom of the sixth, Sass put the game out of reach with her conference leading ninth homerun of the season. With Cote back in the game to pitch to Sass with a runner on, the South Shore native took a pitch the opposite way to propel the Nighthawks into their fifth NECC Championship Tournament – fourth consecutive.
Milauskas earned her 16th victory of the season improving to 16-10 while Cote took the loss dropping her to 6-13 on the season.
The Nighthawks improve to 19-11-1 while the Blazers close out the season at 15-19.