Lyons suffer pair of setbacks to regionally-ranked Eastern Connecticut

NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College softball team lost twice to regionally-ranked Eastern Connecticut State University on Tuesday, dropping decisions of 6-4 and 9-1 in six innings during a twinbill on Clark Field. The Lyons slipped to 11-17, while the Warriors, who are second in the New England Intercollegiate Softball Coaches Association (NEISCA) poll and defeated the nation's top-ranked team earlier this year, are 14-4.

Eastern Connecticut State broke on the board first in the opener, as junior Ashley Sullivan (Trumbull, CT/Trumbull) knocked in a run with two outs in the first inning before two more came around in the second. Wheaton scored on a two-out error in the third to make it 3-1, but three Warrior runs pushed the visitors' advantage to five in the fourth inning. Eastern Connecticut State employed a sacrifice fly and suicide squeeze in the frame before Sullivan legged out an RBI triple with two down.

The Lyons began the fifth by turning a triple play to deny further Warrior damage. With the runners at first and second on the move, sophomore shortstop Katy Salka (Ayer, MA/Ayer) caught a soft pop-up and tossed toward second base to classmate Marissa Hobocan (Shelton, CT/Saint Joseph), who tagged the bag and fired to senior Stacey Kelleher (Brockton, MA/Brockton) at first base to narrowly pick up the final out.

In the home half, sophomore Nicole DeRosa (Greenwich, CT/Greenwich Academy) drew a bases-loaded walk with two down to cut into her team's deficit, but no further runs came home in the frame. Kelleher launched her second home run of the year, a two-run shot, with two outs in the seventh to produce the final margin.

Senior Lynn Cotto (Brookfield, CT/Brookfield) went 3-for-3 for the Lyons, Kelleher was 2-for-4 with two RBI, and senior Brady Benton (Concord, NH/Concord) finished 2-for-3 with two runs. Freshman Mary Fay (Stoughton, MA/Cardinal Spellman) took the loss before junior Andrea Bagley (Foxboro, MA/Foxboro) fired three shutout innings of relief.

Senior Courtney Caswell (Wakefield, RI/South Kingstown) was 3-for-3 for the Warriors, Sullivan had two hits and two RBI, while freshman Priscilla Alicea (Stratford, CT/Trumbull) added two knocks and scored twice. Senior Katie Pensiero (Stamford, CT/Stamford) worked 4.1 innings for the win, yielding one earned run.

Wheaton flashed strong defense to begin the second contest, as Benton made a diving catch in center field to rob the leadoff hitter in the first inning before Kelleher dove to grab a foul pop near the first-base dugout in the second. However, junior Kim Church (Farmington, CT/Farmington) drove a three-run double beyond the outstretched glove of a diving Fay in left field later in the second, sparking a four-run frame. Fay made a running catch to end the inning with two runners on.

After a dominant start by freshman Molly Rathbun (Hebron, CT/RHAM), who fanned the first five Lyons, Wheaton rallied to get on the board in the third. Salka drilled a double over the right fielder before later coming home on a Fay groundout, but it proved to be the Lyons' lone run.

A pair of Warriors later had two-run hits, as freshman Alicia Mangiafico (Manchester, CT/Suffield Academy) doubled home a pair with two down in the fifth before Rathbun hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

In addition to Salka's double, Kelleher added Wheaton's other hit with a two-out single in the fourth. Bagley yielded three earned runs in five innings of work, striking out three and walking two.

Rathbun finished with a complete-game two-hitter, striking out six. Church was 2-for-4 with four RBI, Mangiafico finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, and Alicea had a 2-for-2 effort while scoring twice.

Wheaton heads back into New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Friday when it hosts Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in a 3:00 p.m. doubleheader.