Wheaton aids postseason hopes, splits pair of one-run NEWMAC games

WORCESTER, MA- Senior Stacey Kelleher (Brockton, MA/Brockton) knocked home the eventual winning run in the top of the seventh inning of the second game of a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) softball doubleheader on Friday, helping Wheaton College earn a 3-2 win over Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and salvage a twinbill split on Class of 1893 Field. The Engineers took the opener, 1-0.

The Lyons picked up a much-needed win in their quest to qualify for next week's NEWMAC Tournament, as they are now 15-21 overall and 6-8 in the league. Wheaton sits sixth in the league standings, as the top six teams participate in the postseason. WPI moved to 11-20 and 3-9.

In the second contest, Wheaton took advantage of two first-inning miscues by the hosts to capture the lead, as senior Brady Benton (Concord, NH/Concord) came through with a two-out, two-run single. The Engineers threatened in the home half, as two of the first three batters drew walks before freshman hurler Lesley Warn (Portland, ME/Deering) settled down and retired eight of the next nine WPI hitters.

Wheaton had an opportunity go for naught in the second, as senior Lynn Cotto (Brookfield, CT/Brookfield) led off with a double before being stranded, and the Engineers fought back in the fourth. After senior Sara Migdal (Galway, NY/Galway Central) led off with a home run to make it 2-1, freshman Kaylyn Button (Ontario, NY/Wayne Central) doubled with two on and one out, but a fortuitous bounce produced a ground-rule two-bagger, and only the tying run was able to score. From there, Warn stranded Engineers at second and third by inducing a pop-up before fanning the leadoff hitter.

The Lyons nearly broke the tie in the sixth, loading the bags with two down without scoring, before coming through in the seventh. Sophomore Rachel Merrick (Methuen, MA/Central Catholic) led off with a single to center, moved up on freshman Mary Fay's (Stoughton, MA/Cardinal Spellman) sacrifice bunt and scored on Kelleher's single to center. Junior hurler Andrea Bagley (Foxboro, MA/Foxboro) got WPI 1-2-3 in the home half, as she provided three perfect innings of relief out of the bullpen to pick up the win.

Bagley and Warn combined to set down the final 11 Engineer hitters. Warn struck out four while allowing five hits in four innings during a no-decision. Cotto and Kelleher each finished 2-for-3, sophomore Katy Salka (Ayer, MA/Ayer) had a pair of knocks, and Merrick scored twice.

Bagley pitched well in the opener, but a home run by junior Kelly Johnson (Buxton, ME/Bonny Eagle) with one down in the first inning gave WPI all of the offense it needed. Johnson finished 3-for-3, as Bagley allowed only four hits in the game while fanning six and walking no one. Salka was 2-for-3.

The Lyons' best threat occurred in the fourth inning, as sophomore Kristen Hunt (Milford, CT/Jonathan Law) singled leading off before moving all the way to third on consecutive groundouts but being stranded. Salka doubled with two down in the seventh to move into scoring position, but Wheaton was unable to advance her home.

Wheaton hosts Clark University tomorrow on Senior Day, as a sweep of the Cougars would allow the Lyons to clinch a postseason spot. The NEWMAC twinbill begins at 12:00 p.m.