Brown's solo home run in the seventh the difference
WELLESLEY, Mass. – Smith College sophomore Tori Brown (New Market, Md./Linganore) launched a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning to propel the sixth-seeded Pioneers to a 1-0 victory over second-seeded Wheaton College on the final day of the 2014 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Softball Tournament at Wellesley College.
With the win, Smith (19-13) advanced to the NEWMAC championship but fell to Wellesley College (27-9) by a 1-0 score later in the afternoon to see its conference tournament run come to a close. The Blue, who captured their second NEWMAC title in program history, now await their seeding fate in the upcoming NCAA Tournament on Monday at 10 a.m. Wheaton (30-10) will look to gain a possible at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament as the Lyons are currently ranked fifth in the New England regional rankings.
Smith sophomore Gina Martucci (Pompton Plains, N.J./Pequannock Township) earned the win (18-6) on seven innings pitched, five hits, no runs, zero walks and three strikeouts.
Wheaton senior Allison Baker (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional) took the loss on seven innings of work, one run (earned), no walks and two strikeouts.
Both pitchers cruised through the early innings, with Wheaton's Baker matching Martucci's effectiveness. Each hurler allowed just two hits through the first five innings of play.
In the top of the sixth, Smith got the lead-off runner on, with a Joanna Giordano (South Salem, N.Y./John Jay) bunt single. Ruth Zimmerman (Edison, N.J./John P. Stevens) then launched a high pop up behind second base that appeared to be dropping in, but Wheaton's centerfielder, Emma Hart (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln), made a diving catch and fired a strike to first base for the double play. Baker then got a strike out to end the inning.
Wheaton answered in the bottom half of the inning as Hart led off with a single and was sent to second with a ground out from senior Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth). Martucci got the ensuing pinch hitter to pop out on the first pitch and then Allison Snyder (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury) snared a hard-hit line drive to right to end the threat.
After Brown's leadoff home run in the top of the seventh, Baker induced three fly outs to send the game to the bottom of the inning. In the Wheaton half of the frame, Martucci got a strikeout for the first out, before pinch hitter Mary DeMoura (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) singled up the middle, keeping the Lyons alive. DeMoura stole second and a ground out pushed her to third with two outs. Martucci then forced a ground out to send the Pioneers to the NEWMAC title game for the first time since 1998.
Brown finished the day going 2-for-3 including the game-winner, while Zimmerman and Giordano added the only other Smith hits in the win. Wheaton was paced by Hart's two hits, while Rocha, DeMoura and freshman Rebecca Seifert (Franklin, Mass./Franklin) added singles in the loss.