Wheaton overpowers Smith to even NEWMAC record

NORTON, Mass. - The Wheaton College softball team combined to score 28 runs on 24 hits to overpower Smith College in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference doubleheader Saturday at Clark Field. Senior Kristen Hunt (Milford, Conn./Jonathan Law) powered the attack with five RBI, including a grand slam in the opener, while junior Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass./North Reading) went 5-for-6 with three RBI.

Now 13-10 overall and 4-4 in league play, the Lyons scored 13 runs in the first frame to cruise to the 18-0 victory in game one, while Wheaton plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth to seal the 10-2 win during the second contest.  The Pioneers slip to 1-17 overall and 0-6 in the conference circuit.

The Lyons featured a well-balanced lineup in the opener as eight of the nine starters registered at least one hit, including four with multiple knocks.  Hunt paced the 13-hit attack with a 1-for-1 showing, while sophomore Megan Roy (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and three RBI.  Senior Katy Salka (Ayer, Mass./Ayer) and classmate Nicole DeRosa (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich Academy) along with sophomore Amanda Drury (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) joined Poplaski with a pair of runs driven in.   

Wheaton put the contest out of reach in the first inning, when the hosts scored 13 runs with two outs. Senior Rachel Merrick (Methuen, Mass./Central Catholic) led off the frame with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch.  With two outs, the Lyons drew four consecutive walks to build their advantage to 2-0.  Drury laced a two-run single back through the box, while Poplaski followed suit with a two-run triple to left center.  The hosts continued to apply the offensive pressure as DeRosa and Roy each collected an RBI single with the bases loaded. Hunt capped the 13-run uprising with her second grand slam of the season and fourth home run this spring.     

Freshman Allison Baker (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional) continued her solid showing in the pitching circle, hurling a one-hit, complete-game shutout.  The righty did not allow a base hit until the fourth frame, including retiring the first five hitters she faced.  Baker set down five of her final six batters to earn her eighth victory and third shutout.  She did not yield a free pass and registered four punch outs.

The Lyons padded their advantage over the next three innings, scoring two runs in the second and third, respectively. Roy blasted her second home run of the season over the left centerfield fence to provide the final insurance run in the bottom of the fourth.

Smith sophomore Tessa Clark (Calais, Maine/Calais) suffered her fourth loss, surrendering 13 runs on seven hits in just two-thirds of an inning.  Classmate Abagael Shrader (Tiffin, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana) tossed the remaining three and a third innings in relief.

In game two, Wheaton cracked the scoring column in the bottom of the first, when Roy singled through the right side of the infield to drive in senior Marissa Hobocan (Shelton, Conn./Saint Joseph).  The Lyons continued to add to their advantage in the third, when the hosts scored back-to-back runs off Pioneer wild pitches.  Poplaski registered an RBI single up the middle to give Wheaton a 4-0 advantage.  

Smith was finally able to solve Baker in the top of the fourth.  Junior Kaitlyn O'Brien (Santa Cruz, Calif./Santa Cruz) and classmate Kirstie Beaton (Osterville, Mass./Barnstable) opened the frame with consecutive singles, but Baker retired the next two hitters.  Senior Salma Mehter (Seattle, Wash./Roosevelt) drove the first pitch she saw into left field to cut the visitors' deficit to 4-1.  Unfazed by the Pioneers surge, the hosts quickly responded in the bottom half of the inning with three runs.  DeRosa and Hunt sandwiched a run-scoring single between a Roy RBI groundout to put the Lyons back in control at 7-1.

Despite Smith scoring an unearned run in the top of the frame, Wheaton sealed the sweep with its third straight three-run inning.  Poplaski fueled the surge with a single to center, while Merrick and Hobocan reached on a walk and sacrifice bunt, respectively. Salka continued her timely hitting with a two-run single through the right side of the infield, and Roy capped the afternoon's scoring with a sacrifice fly to left.

Poplaski led the offensive attack with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate, while Hobocan and Salka recorded two hits apiece.  Roy went 1-for-2 with three RBI.  Baker collected her second victory of the afternoon to raise her record to 9-5.  She limited the Pioneers to just one run on four hits while striking out two in four innings of work.  Junior Lesley Warn (Portland, Maine/Deering) allowed an unearned run in relief.

Smith freshman Kayla Kiers (West Warwick, R.I./West Warwick) was saddled with the loss, surrendering 10 runs on 11 hits while punching out three.      

Wheaton returns to action on Tuesday with a home game against non-conference foe Endicott College at 3:00 p.m.

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