SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Freshman Noelle Christmas (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) belted a three-run home run and sophomore Allison Baker (Orange, Mass./Amity Regional) tossed a complete game shutout to help lift the No. 5 seed Wheaton College softball team to a 6-0 victory over No. 4 seed WPI in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament action Tuesday afternoon at Springfield College's Potter Field.
With the win, the Lyons (18-19) advance in the winner's bracket to face host and top seed Springfield at 4:30 pm this afternoon. WPI (24-15) moves to the loser's bracket of the double elimination tournament and will face either Babson or Coast Guard on Saturday at noon back in Springfield.
Wheaton opened the scoring in the top of the first. Christmas led off the game with a walk, stole second, moved to third on an errorm and came around on a bloop single by junior Megan Roy (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional). The Lyons broke open the game an inning later when Christmas' one-out bomb to left field brought home junior Amanda Drury (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) and senior Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass./North Reading), who had each singled.
The Lyons tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the third when junior Renee Laflam (Concord, N.H./Concord) delivered an RBI two-bagger and freshman Aimee Avila (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) added a run-producing single.
Baker was masterful, scattering five hits and walking none en route to improving to 12-11 this spring. The right-hander only allowed multiple runners to reach base twice on the day, including the fifth inning when Christmas thwarted the WPI threat by gunning down a runner at third base from right field.
Senior Erin Flaherty (Stoughton, Mass./Stoughton) absorbed the loss for WPI. The senior is now 11-5 this season after yielding five earned runs in 2.1 innings of work. Classmate Allie Hardy (West Townsend, Mass./Leominster) hurled 4.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just two hits while striking out two.
Laflam and Roy were the only repeat hitters on the day while freshman Katie Bumila (Raynham, Mass./Coyle and Cassidy), sophomore Nicole McDonough (Abington, Mass./Cardinal Spellman), junior Erin Beaulieu (Bethany, Conn./Amity Regional), sophomore Ali LaRue (South Glens Falls, N.Y./South Glens Falls), and senior Allie Roche (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) all tallied single hits for the Engineers.