Top three seeds advance to final day of CCC Championships
NEWPORT, R.I. – Freshman Kelly Reid (Nantucket, Mass.) tossed a three-hit shutout as the third-seeded University of New England softball team (25-12) advanced to the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship tournament finals by defeating #1 Salve Regina University (23-15), 11-0, at Toppa Field on Thursday night. Second seed Endicott College (22-16-1) earned a 5-0 victory over #8 Eastern Nazarene College and a 6-2 win over #6 Western New England University to advance to the semifinals along with Salve Regina. Western New England had defeated #4 Roger Williams (19-23) earlier in the day by a score of 11-2 in five innings.
#2 Endicott eliminates #8 Eastern Nazarene, 5-0: Freshman Cam Sprague (Clifton Park, N.Y.) scattered eight hits and a walk over seven shutout innings, striking out eight batters to earn her fifth win of the season. The Gulls rallied for three runs in the bottom of the third, receiving RBI singles from sophomore Alexandra Moise (North Reading, Mass.), junior Colleen Martin (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), and junior Byrne Katz (Trumbull, Conn.) to take a 3-0 advantage.
The Gulls added a run in both the fourth and fifth frames to extend their lead to 5-0, which was more than enough for Sprague who put the finishing touches on the shutout victory to improve to 5-6 on the season.
#6 Western New England eliminates #4 Roger Williams, 11-2 (5 inn.): The Golden Bears pounded-out 14 hits, as sophomore Maria Francese (Hinsdale, Mass.) went 3-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored, and four runs batted in. With the score knotted at 1-all heading into the top of the fourth, the Golden Bears exploded for seven runs on eight hits. Francese got the scoring started with a three-run blast, and was followed by RBI singles from senior Sarah Lempicki (Plantsville, Conn.) and sophomore Kellee Burns (Seymour, Conn.), as well as run scoring doubles by senior Rachel Wyrwa (Methuen, Mass.) and freshman Christina Speroni (Cumberland, R.I.) to grab an 8-1 advantage.
After the Hawks answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by senior Erica Castro (Medford, N.Y.), the Golden Bears completed the five-inning victory with three runs in the fifth, including a two-run single by Lempicki, who earned her 10th win of the season on the mound.
#3 University of New England defeats #1 Salve Regina, 11-0: Freshman Kelly Reid held the Seahawks' offense in check, allowing just three hits over seven shutout innings to improve to 15-4 on the year. Offensively, the Nor'easters were led by senior Ashley Gott (Winterport, Maine) who was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and one driven in, and freshman Adrienne Chase (Holden, Mass.) who finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and four runs batted in. Sophomore Marissa Simpson (Brimfield, Mass.), junior Megan Jakiela (Meridan, Conn.), and senior Kristen Parolise (Hamden, Conn.) each had one hit for Salve Regina.
The Nor'easters scored two runs on three hits in both the first and second innings to jump out to a 4-0 lead. After adding a run in the sixth, UNE blew the game open with six runs in the top of the seventh, including a two-run triple by senior Meagan Johnson (Standish, Maine), and a two-run double by Chase to cap the 11-0 victory.
#2 Endicott eliminates #6 Western New England, 6-2: After the Gulls had fallen behind by a score of 2-0, Cam Sprague came in to pitch four scoreless innings of relief, giving her a total of 11 scoreless frames on the day, allowing the Endicott offense to mount a comeback.
After the Gulls cut the WNE lead in half with a run in the bottom of the third, Endicott rallied for three runs on four hits in the fourth to grab a 4-2 lead. Freshman Jess Linden (Stratford, Conn.) tied the game on an RBI ground-rule double, before junior Jocelyn Russo (Middletown, Conn.) laced a two-run double to left to give Endicott the lead, 4-2. Russo finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a pair of runs batted in.
The Gulls added a run in the fifth on a sac fly by Katz, and another run in the sixth on an RBI single by Moise, before Sprague put the finishing touches on her second victory of the day, evening her overall record at 6-6 on the year.
The CCC Softball Championships will conclude on Saturday at Gaudet Field. The top-seeded Salve Regina Seahawks will face #2 Endicott at 10 a.m., with the winner advancing to play the third-seeded University of New England at 12 p.m. If UNE should lose the first game, the two teams would play a deciding game at 2 p.m.