Lyons season comes to a close at 34-10 overall
UNION, N.J. – The Wheaton College softball team forced the if necessary game in the best of three series against Kean University on Saturday afternoon, but the Cougars bounced back in the winner-take-all matchup by a 4-2 score to capture the Union Super Regional Championship.
Kean (30-13-1) will now advance to the 2015 NCAA Division III Softball Championship at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Virginia. The first game of the national eight-team tournament will come against the University of Texas-Tyler on Thursday, May 21.
This will be Kean's first trip to the NCAA College World Series since the 1986 team ended its season there with a 38-9 record. Prior to today, it marked the program's only appearance in the College World Series.
Wheaton's season comes to a close at 34-10 overall. The Lyons made their second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season and produced their second consecutive 30-win campaign under head coach Rachael Powers '03.
Senior Courtney Yard (Stockton, N.J./Hunterdon Central) earned Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Tournament honors and Emily Sabo (Rahway, N.J./Rahway) claimed Most Outstanding Player accolades. Yard went 2-1 in the tournament, while Sabo was 4-for-6 with an .800 on-base percentage and a 1.167 slugging percentage.
Wheaton 8, Kean 0 (Game Two, Six Inn.)
Senior Noelle Christmas (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) helped the Lyons force the if necessary game by throwing five shutout innings alongside three hits, two walks and three strikeouts to improve to 10-1 overall on the season in the first of two games on the day.
Junior Jillian Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) completed the sixth allowing one hit and a walk on 15 pitches.
Yard took the loss (23-9) on four innings pitched, six hits, four runs (three earned), one walk and four punchouts.
After being two-hit in yesterday's 3-0 loss in game one of the best of three series, Wheaton's nationally ranked offense compiled ten hits – including a double and a home run – to mercy rule the Cougars in game two of the series. The Lyons have won via the mercy rule 19 times this season.
Wheaton opened the scoring in the fourth as the Blue and White struck for four runs on five hits.
Junior Madeline Hatch (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro) got the offense going with a leadoff single down the left field line, while sophomore Morgan Walsh (Norwell, Mass./Norwell) singled to right center and later stole second without a throw to put runners at second and third.
Classmate Caroline Fairbanks (Milford, Mass./Milford) followed with an opposite field two-run double down the right field line to give the Lyons a 2-0 lead and some much needed momentum.
Sophomore Emily Bouthillette (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) continued the rally with an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Fairbanks also moved up to third base on the hit by Bouthillette.
Junior Marissa Timoteo (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter) then doubled the Lyons advantage with a sharply-hit single up the middle to plate Fairbanks and Bouthillette.
Yard got out of the jam with a foul out to second, a strike out swinging and a fly out to right field.
In the fifth, Bouthillette made it 7-0 with a three-run home run to left center field for her tenth round-tripper of the season. Hatch and Walsh both scored on the no-doubter home run. Hatch worked a one-out walk, while Walsh ripped a single through the left side to set up the scoring.
With the three-run home run, Bouthillette now ranks fifth all-time in a single-season in RBIs with 55 total.
Walsh later wrapped up the victory for the Lyons in the sixth with a walk-off RBI single through the left side to plate Hart from third. Hart looked at four straight pitches outside of the strike zone with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out before coming home.
Kean 4, Wheaton 2 (Game Three)
Yard bounced back in the winner-take-all matchup for Kean tossing a perfect game into the sixth inning to earn the eventual victory (24-9) and send the Cougars to the College World Series. Yard went on to register her 30th complete game of the season on three hits, two runs (both earned), one walk and three strikeouts.
Senior Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) shouldered the loss (16-10) on three innings of work, five hits, two runs (all earned), a pair of walks and a punchout. Christmas went the next 1 1/3 innings, while Rocha did not allow a run over the remaining 1 2/3 innings of play.
Kean grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when first-year MacKenzie Valeriani (Edison, N.J./Edison) lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that drove in Yard.
The Cougars tacked on another run in the third with a fielder's choice RBI from first-year Katie Garbarino (Saddle Brook, N.J./Saddle Brook) to put a 2-0 gap on the scoreboard.
In the fifth, Kean produced two more runs that proved to be vital to the final outcome of the contest.
Sabo scored on a wild pitch from third base, and Garbarino knocked home a run with a single up the middle to make it 4-0.
In the sixth, Yard continued her dominance in the circle until Wheaton sophomore shortstop Mary DeMoura (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) broke up the perfect game bid on a single to right center with two outs in the frame. Yard then induced a ground out to second to wrap up the inning and put Kean three outs away from heading to the NCAA Division III Softball College World Series.
Rocha did her part in the bottom of the sixth recording a pair of ground outs and a strikeout looking to keep the deficit at 4-0. Overall in the Super Regional, Rocha pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings out of the pen in three appearances for the Lyons.
In the top of the seventh, Wheaton pushed across two runs and also sent the tying run to the plate, but Yard held on for the win.
Hatch began the frame with a bunt single and then stole second base after Walsh struck out swinging for the first out. Fairbanks followed and advanced Hatch to third with a deep fly out to left field for out number two.
Bouthillette extended the game with a six-pitch walk despite being down in the count 2-1 and later advanced to second base on a defensive indifference to put runners at second and third. Berardi then pinch-hit for Rocha and smacked a double to center field to cut the deficit in half at 4-2.
Yard composed herself, however, and induced a ground out to third base to close out the victory.