KEENE, N.H. - Wheaton College freshman Kelly Welch (Wood Dale, Ill./Fenton) blasted a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh to help lift the top-seeded Lyons to a 5-3 victory over #7 Worcester State University in the Eastern College Athletics Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Tournament Championship game hosted by Keene State at the Owl Athletics Complex.
The crown is the first for Wheaton (28-16) who is making its fifth ECAC Tournament appearance as the Lyons had never previously been to the title game. The Lancers, who won the 1990 ECAC Division III North Championship, see their season end at 25-18.
Worcester State opened the contest with the early 2-0 advantage in the top of the second.
Senior Hannah Everson (Methuen, Mass./Methuen) cranked her first-career home run on a solo shot to left field to jump start the Blue and Gold before classmate Alex Kerr (Franklin, Mass./Franklin) drove in fourth-year Aimee Lamoureux (East Brookfield, Mass./David Prouty) on an RBI ground-out.
The Lyons came right back in the bottom of the third when junior Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) hammered her fourth homer of the season over the left field fence for a two-run round-tripper to equalize the game at 2-2.
Wheaton scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth on rare double-steal play, off a walk, for the 3-2 edge.
After freshman Erin Deneen (Framingham, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury) stroked a lead-off triple down the left field line, Rocha was issued a base on balls, but caught the defense napping as she made a move for second. When Lancers' catcher Hillary Hart (Clinton, Mass./Clinton) let go of her throw to second, Deneen took off and scampered home for the score and a 3-2 advantage at the time for Wheaton.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Hart responded with a solo homer to left field tying the game at 3-3. Hart launched her squad-best third of the year. Hart's home run set the stage for Welch's late inning heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs, freshman Marissa Timoteo (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter) rapped a double to deep center field and then Welch delivered a two-run homer off of the scoreboard for the game-ending hit.
Sophomore Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for earning the victory in the circle twice during the competition. Berardi posted a 1.62 earned run average with five strikeouts in 13 innings pitched which included a two-hit shutout over eighth-seeded Becker in the opening round.
Berardi (8-4) gave up three earned runs on seven hits to go along with three strikeouts against the Lancers. Berardi did not issue a walk.
Everson (11-8) was dealt the loss as she permitted five earned runs on ten base knocks to go along with one strikeout and a pair of free passes.
Welch, who finishes the year with a team-best six home runs, was 2-for-4 while Rocha also finished with a pair of hits on a homer and a double. Hart was the lone multi-hitter for the Lancers with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate and a home-run.