Wheaton awaits probable NCAA Tournament at-large bid on Monday
NORTON, Mass. – Third-seeded WPI eliminated first-seeded Wheaton College from the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Softball Tournament with a 9-2 victory over the Lyons on Sunday afternoon at Clark Field.
With the victory, WPI (30-8) advances to the championship round later this afternoon against fifth-seeded Wellesley College. The Engineers must defeat the Blue twice in order to win the NEWMAC Championship title. Today's win for WPI also ties the most wins in program history for the Engineers.
Wheaton, third in the most recent NCAA Division III New England regional rankings, also is 30-8 this season and now awaits word on Monday for a probable NCAA Tournament bid.
WPI junior starter Clare Doolin (Newton, Mass./Newton North) claimed the win (15-3) on six innings pitched, eight hits, two runs (both earned), one walk and a game-high five strikeouts. Sophomore Caroline Medino (Pompton Lakes, N.J./Pompton Lakes) closed out the seventh yielding just one hit.
Lyons' senior starter Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) took the loss (14-5) on 2 1/3 innings pitched, nine hits and six runs (all earned).
In the bottom of the first, Wheaton threatened with runners on second and third with two outs, but Doolin struck out the next batter she faced to keep the game scoreless.
WPI then went ahead 1-0 in the top of the second when first-year Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name) launched a sacrifice fly that scored RiAnna May (Westminster, Colo./Standley Lake).
In the bottom of the frame, the Lyons began the inning with Emily Bouthillette (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) getting hit by a pitch but saw their rally snuffed out when Crimson and Gray sophomore shortstop Hope Shevchuk (Burlington, Conn./Lewis S Mills) made a diving catch on a sinking line drive and fired back to first to complete the double play.
The Engineers busted out for five runs in the top of third on six hits and three stolen bases. WPI used RBI singles by sophomore Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, R.I./Coventry), Gurska and Saucier, while senior Katie Bumila (Raynham, Mass./Coyle & Cassidy) chipped in with a run-producing fielder's choice and May scampered home on a wild pitch.
Wheaton dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the third on a RBI double to center by junior Madeline Hatch (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro) that plated sophomore Rebecca Seifert (Franklin, Mass./Franklin), who had doubled down the left field line.
WPI quickly countered with two runs of its own in the top of the fourth to push the lead to 8-1 courtesy a run-scoring double by Bumila and a Shevchuk RBI single to left center.
The Lyons pulled a run back in the bottom of the sixth when catcher Katelyn Andrade (Seekonk, Mass./Seekonk) drove in junior Jillian Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) with a single through the left side only to see Gurska blast her third homer of the year to center in the top of the seventh.
From there, sophomore Caroline Medino (Pompton Lakes, N.J./Pompton Lakes) worked a scoreless seventh to send the Engineers to the championship round.
Biney, Gallagher and May joined Gurska with multiple hits for WPI, while Hatch and junior Emma Hart (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) both tallied two hits for the hosts.