March 18, 2011

Hunt, Roy power Wheaton in Florida finale

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Senior third baseman Kristen Hunt (Milford, Conn.) and sophomore first baseman Megan Roy (North Dighton, Mass.) powered the Wheaton College softball team to a 2-0 mark this afternoon at the 2011 Spring Rebel Games in Kissimmee, Fla. Hunt blasted a grand slam to lift the Lyons to a 5-2 victory over William Paterson, while Roy went 3-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in to lead Wheaton past Skidmore College 3-1.

The top five batters in the Wheaton (8-4) line up accounted for six of the Lyons' 10 hits against the Pioneers. Hunt paced the local nine with a 2-for-4 appearance at the plate with three RBI and a pair of runs scored, while freshman designated player Ashley Brillon (Attleboro, Mass.), sophomore centerfielder Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass.), and senior right fielder Rachel Merrick (Methuen, Mass.) each collected multiple hits as the Lyons completed the season-series sweep of William Paterson (6-3).

After each team threatened to score in the second inning, Wheaton cracked the scoring column in the third frame. Poplaski began the surge with a single into the hole, while Merrick followed with a double to left centerfield. Senior shortstop Katy Salka (Ayer, Mass.) gave the Lyons the early advantage on a fielder's choice as the Pioneers were unable to cut down Poplaski at the plate. William Paterson set the table for Hunt by walking the bases loaded. Hunt drilled her first home run of the season over the left field fence to stake Wheaton to a 4-0 lead. The Pioneers won an appeal that the lead Lyon runner did not cross home plate.

Wheaton added an insurance run in the fifth inning, when Brillon smashed a double into left centerfield. Hunt was able to avoid the tag at home plate to increase the Lyons' advantage to 5-0.

William Paterson would not go quietly as the Pioneers sent seven hitters to the plate in the top of the sixth. The first two William Paterson hitters reached safely on a base on ball and single, respectively. With one-out, pinch hitter Heather Mendez ripped a single back through the box to drive in two Pioneer runs. The visitors continued to apply the pressure as William Patterson loaded the bases with two outs. Wheaton starting pitcher Allison Baker (Orange, Conn.) was able to work out of the jam by striking out the potential winning run.

Baker continued to shine in the pitching circle for the Lyons, earning her third consecutive victory to raise her record to 4-2. She allowed just two runs on 12 hits, while striking out a pair. Wheaton handed her counterpart, Michele Graham, her first loss (4-1) of the season. The Lyons scored five runs on 10 hits, while receiving two free passes.

In the nightcap, the Thoroughbreds (2-8) jumped out to an early advantage in the top of the first inning, but Wheaton quickly responded with the equalizer in the bottom half of the frame. Salka laced a RBI single through the left side of the infield to knot the contest at one.

Lyon junior starting pitcher Lesley Warn (Portland, Maine) settled into a groove between the second and fourth innings, retiring seven consecutive hitters and nine out of her past 10. Skidmore threatened to score in the fifth, but Merrick cut down the go-ahead run at the plate to end the frame.

Wheaton seized control of the contest in the bottom of the sixth, when Merrick led off with single to left field. The Lyons were aided by a Thoroughbred errant throw on a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position with no outs. Roy delivered the decisive blow with a double into centerfield to knock in a pair of runs and hand Wheaton its sixth victory in its past seven games.

Warn limited Skidmore to just one run on three hits, while striking out five to collect the complete-game win. Salka and junior catcher Valerie Tratner (Forest Hills, N.Y.) each went 2-for-3 to join Roy with multiple hits.

Wheaton is slated to open its NEWMAC conference schedule at 12 p.m. on March 20, when the Lyons host Springfield College for a doubleheader.

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