NCAA TOURNAMENT: Wheaton Downs Husson, 5-1

Lyons advance to Sunday's portion of the tournament with a 2-0 record

NORTON, Mass. – The Wheaton College softball team defeated Husson University, 5-1, in game three of the NCAA Division III softball regional held at Clark Field on Saturday afternoon.

Wheaton 5, Husson 1

Lyons' senior starter Noelle Christmas (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth North) scattered three hits over six innings to push her record to 9-1 on the season. Christmas, who retired ten batters in a row from the end of the first to the conclusion of the fourth, yielded just one earned run and no walks alongside three strikeouts.

Sophomore Jillian Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) closed out the seventh on one free pass and a strikeout looking.

Husson senior starter Kayla Merrill (Bethel, Maine/Telstar Regional) took the loss (16-5) on 4 1/3 innings pitched, nine hits, five runs (all earned), no walks and one strikeout.

The Eagles grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning with a two out rally.

Junior Lyndsay Merrill (Bethel, Maine/Telstar Regional) lined a double to the left center gap to extend the inning, while sophomore Casey Lopes (New Bedford, Mass./GNB Voc-Tech) followed with a hard-hit RBI single through the left side of the infield to put Husson on the scoreboard.

Wheaton responded with three runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth to jump out to a 5-1 lead.

In the third, juniors Erin Deneen (South Yarmouth, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury), Emma Hart (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln), and Madeline Hatch (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro) all notched singles to load the bases for sophomore Morgan Walsh (Norwell, Mass./Norwell) with one out in the frame.

Walsh promptly tied the score with a sacrifice fly to center field, while senior Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) pushed the Lyons ahead, 3-1, with a two-run base knock to center.

In the fifth, sophomore Caroline Fairbanks (Milford, Mass./Milford) roped a two-run double down the left field that scored both Hart and Hatch for the 5-1 gap.

Husson threatened in the sixth with one out and runners on first and second, but Wheaton sophomore shortstop Mary DeMoura (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) caught a line drive off the bat of Lopes deep in the hole up the middle of the field and then doubled up the runner at second who sprinted for third base to end the inning and the scoring situation for the Eagles.

Rocha allowed the second batter of the seventh inning to reach base via a walk, but used a ground ball to get a force out at second and a strikeout looking to lock up the victory.

Hatch highlighted Wheaton's offense on the day going 4-for-4 with two runs scored from the second spot in the lineup. Fairbanks also went 2-for-2 with two RBI, while Hart was 2-for-4 with two runs.

K. Merrill, L. Merrill and Lopes all had hits for the Eagles.

Wheaton (32-8) will play the winner of game five of the Norton Regional Tournament on Sunday, May 9 at 12 p.m. The Lyons will need one win to advance to the NCAA Division III super regional portion of the tournament.

Husson (27-12) will play the winner between Johnson & Wales (21-15) and Eastern Connecticut State University (29-7-1) in an elimination game later today at 4 p.m.

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