April 5, 2009

Wheaton takes leads into late stages in pair of losses to Wellesley

NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College softball team took a 2-1 advantage into the late innings in both ends of a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) doubleheader against league power Wellesley College on Sunday at Clark Field before coming up short, 6-2 in the opener and 4-2 in the nightcap. The Lyons are now 11-15 overall and 2-6 in NEWMAC play, while the Blue, which received votes in the first four national polls, improved to 10-7 and 6-1. Wellesley finished as the 2008 NEWMAC Tournament runner up.

Wellesley scored first in the opener, as junior Megan Wood (Jacksonville, FL/The Bolles School) singled with one down in the second inning and eventually took third on a double steal before coming home on classmate Alex Warren's (Delta, British Columbia/South Delta Secondary School) sacrifice fly.

The Lyons got the run back in the home half, as sophomore Rachel Merrick (Methuen, MA/Central Catholic) launched a two-out solo homer down the left field line for her second career dinger. In the fourth, senior Stacey Kelleher (Brockton, MA/Brockton) singled with one down before finding the plate after sophomore Nicole DeRosa (Greenwich, CT/Greenwich Academy) sent a double into the right center gap beyond diving freshman center fielder Jessie Haladyna (Saints Johns, FL/Bartram Trail).

Freshman hurler Mary Fay (Stoughton, MA/Cardinal Spellman) was critical to Wheaton's success early, yielding only one hit in the first four innings before the Blue rallied in the fifth. The visitors opened the frame with four straight singles, as sophomore Megan Townsend's (Saline, MI/Saline) knock knotted the contest before the go-ahead run scored on an error. Three more Blue runs later scored without the ball leaving the infield.

Fay suffered the loss, yielding four earns runs on six hits in five innings while striking out one and not walking a batter. Junior Andrea Bagley (Foxboro, MA/Foxboro) fanned two in two shutout innings of relief. Six Lyons had a knock, with DeRosa and sophomore Kristen Hunt (Milford, CT/Jonathan Law) each doubling.

After DeRosa's hit, Wellesley senior Barbarajean Grundlock (Blackwood, NJ/The Peddie School) set down 11 of the final 12 Wheaton batters. She ended up striking out eight without any walks, while Haladyna doubled as one of seven hitters with one knock.

In the nightcap, the Blue again struck first. Senior Amanda Tai (Melrose, MA/Melrose) led off the opening frame by getting hit with a pitch and came around to score on Haladyna's one-out double, but Wheaton plated a pair of unearned runs the following frame. Merrick led off with a single, moved to third on a pair of sacrifice bunts and scored when freshman Staley Salazar (Lakewood, CO/Bear Creek) reached on an error and grabbed second base on the play. Salazar came in on a passed ball two batters later.

However, Wellesley again staged a late rally, as a hit batter, a fielder's choice and an error loaded the bags in the sixth with no one out. Sophomore Sinta Cebrian (Seattle, WA/The Bush School) provided a tying RBI single, but an outfield error allowed two more runs to come around. With Cebrian on third and no one out, Bagley stopped the rally by retiring the final three batters of the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, senior Brady Benton (Concord, NH/Concord) singled with two down to bring the tying run to the plate, but the Lyons were unable to do further damage. Five Wheaton players had single hits, as Benton had a knock and also reached on a walk. Bagley yielded only two earned runs during seven innings of work, fanning two without issuing a base on balls.

Cebrian and Haladyna were each 2-for-3 for the Blue, while Wood did not allow an earned run during a complete-game effort. She struck out three and walked one.

The Lyons continue an eight-game homestand when they face Eastern Connecticut State University for a Tuesday twinbill at 3:00 p.m.

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