Huge eight-run rally in nightcap completes Wheaton sweep at MIT

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - After winning Friday's opener by a 9-4 count at New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) foe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Wheaton College softball team found itself down 7-0 in the sixth inning of the nightcap and in jeopardy of losing to the Engineers for the first time since 1994, but an eight-run frame pushed the Lyons to an 8-7 win at Briggs Field.

Wheaton saw its records improve to 15-12 overall and 6-6 in the league, while MIT fell to 4-13 and 3-5.

In a seesaw battle that incorporated a pair of early lead changes, Wheaton scored the opening game's last five runs to snap a 4-4 tie after four innings.  The first four hitters in the Lyon lineup went a combined 10-for-17, with senior Kristen Hunt (Milford, Conn./Jonathan Law) and junior Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass./North Reading) each having three hits.  Hunt drove in three, while Poplaski scored three times.

Senior Katy Salka (Ayer, Mass./Ayer) posted three RBI and two hits, freshman Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) was 2-for-4 with four runs, while senior Nicole DeRosa (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich Academy) had two hits.  Freshman Allison Baker (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional) collected her 10th win of the season, yielding 11 hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

MIT had three players with two hits apiece, as junior Katie Harrington (Lexington, Ky./Paul Laurence Dunbar) plated two of her team's runs, while classmate Jessica Iacobucci (Phoenixville, Pa./Shipley School) took the loss after allowing eight earned runs on 13 hits with one strikeout and five walks.

Hunt's two-out double in the first provided the visitors with a 1-0 edge before MIT's two-run second made the score 2-1, but Wheaton answered with two runs in the third to retake a one-run lead.  Poplaski's RBI double in the fourth helped the Lyons double up the Engineers by a 4-2 count before MIT knotted the contest with two runs in the home half.  Wheaton rallied for three runs with two down in the fifth, as Salka delivered a two-run double to left center.  Hunt followed with her second double of the game, scoring Salka.  The Lyons tacked on insurance in the seventh when Salka and sophomore Megan Roy (Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) each drove in a run.

In the nightcap, MIT scored six runs in the third and one in the fourth to take what was thought to be a commanding 7-0 lead heading into the sixth.  Wheaton had other plans however, as the Lyons used six hits coupled with three Engineer errors to plate eight runs, including scoring seven with two out.  Hunt began the rally with a triple before scoring on a throwing error on the play.  A Roy double, hit batsman and slow roller loaded the bases, but MIT seemed to be in position to escape the jam after gunning down two runners at the plate.

The next six Lyons reached base, including a two-run double by Rocha and a Hunt two-RBI single in her second plate appearance of the frame.  In the seventh, MIT put the tying run on second with just one down when a fly ball down the left field line had a chance to drop in, but sophomore Amanda Drury's (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) all-out diving catch thwarted the threat.  Two batters later, senior Rachel Merrick (Methuen, Mass./Central Catholic) recorded her fourth strikeout for her first win of the season, as she gave up two runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings.  Hunt, Poplaski, Rocha and Roy posted two hits apiece, with Hunt and Rocha each plating two.

For MIT, Iacobucci was 3-for-3, while senior hurler Jessica Oleinik (Ellicott City, Md./Centennial) was the hard-luck loser, giving up just three earned runs in 5.2 innings.  She also went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI.

Wheaton travels to Worcester tomorrow to take on league opponent Clark University at 12:00 p.m.

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