Lyons advance to super regional round of NCAA Division III Softball Tournament
NORTON, Mass. – Behind a 15-hit barrage, the Wheaton College softball team claimed a 13-2, five-inning victory over Husson University on Sunday afternoon at Clark Field to capture the 2015 NCAA Division III Softball Norton Regional Championship.
Wheaton (33-8) will now play the winner of Kean University/William Patterson University in a best two out of three series in the NCAA Super Regional next weekend (May 15-16). The site of the NCAA Super Regional has not been announced at this time.
Husson's season comes to a close at 28-13 overall. The Eagles made their seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend.
Senior starter Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) picked up her second win of the regional and 16th on the season yielding two runs and four hits over three innings pitched. Classmate Noelle Christmas (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) closed out the final two frames allowing one hit, and a walk alongside a game-high four strikeouts.
Husson senior Kayla Merrill (Bethel, Maine/Telstar Regional) took the loss (17-6) on five innings pitched, ten hits, eight runs (all earned) and two strikeouts.
The Lyons, who were the visiting team in today's contest, posted three runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back.
Berardi pushed across the first run of the game with a fielder's choice RBI, while sophomore Caroline Fairbanks (Milford, Mass./Milford) delivered a run-producing single through the left side of the infield to make it 2-0. Junior Kelly Welch (Wood Dale, Ill./Fenton) capped the scoring in the frame with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Junior Madeline Hatch (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro) jump started the offense with a one-out single to left field prior to sophomore Morgan Walsh's (Norwell, Mass./Norwell) hard-hit double to the left center gap that set up the eventual big inning for the Lyons.
Husson cut into its deficit in the bottom of the first when Merrill scored on a wild pitch from third base. Merrill led off the frame with a double to left center and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt to first base by first-year Gabrielle Bryant (Hermon, Maine/Hermon) before coming home.
Later in the inning, sophomore Casey Lopes (New Bedford, Mass./GNB Voc-Tech) drilled a two-out double to left center, but Berardi settled in and induced a fly out to center field to keep Wheaton's advantage at two runs (3-1).
Wheaton responded with five runs in the second and third innings, respectively, to wrap up the win.
In the second, Walsh highlighted the frame with a two-run double to left center, while Fairbanks and sophomore Emily Bouthillette (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) both collected one RBI each.
In the third, Hatch launched a two-run home run to deep right center, her fourth round-tripper of the season, to extend the gap on the scoreboard to 10-1 and put the mercy rule in effect.
Welch followed with an RBI double later in the frame, while Bouthillette smacked a two-run double down the left field line for a 13-1 advantage.
Lopes got a run back for Husson in the third with a two-out single up the middle that plated junior Lyndsay Merrill (Bethel, Maine/Telstar Regional).
Berardi proceeded to induce a ground out (1-3) in the next at-bat to end the threat.
Christmas then cruised through the final two innings for the Lyons recording four strikeouts along the way.
Hatch finished the game going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, one home run and two RBI. Junior Emma Hart (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) was 2-for-4 with two runs from the leadoff spot, while Walsh went 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBI from the third spot to highlight the offense.
Lopes notched a 3-for-3 day at the plate with one RBI for the Eagles in the cleanup spot.
Norton Regional Tournament Most Outstanding Players
Madeline Hatch, Wheaton College (Mass.)
Emily Berardi, Wheaton College (Mass.)
Norton Regional All-Tournament Team
Sam Rosetti, Eastern Connecticut State University
Jennifer Corona, Johnson & Wales University
Kristen Solari, Johnson & Wales University
Casey Lopes, Husson University
Kayla Merrill, Husson University
Lyndsay Merrill, Husson University
Noelle Christmas, Wheaton College (Mass.)
Emma Hart, Wheaton College (Mass.)
Hatch hit .700 (7-for-10) in the tournament to go along with six runs, one double, one home run and two RBI, while Berardi went 2-0 in the circle over ten innings pitched and accumulated 11 strikeouts. Berardi also went 5-for-9 (.556) at the plate with one double, one home run, and six RBI.