Softball Opens NEWMAC Tournament by Splitting a Pair of Tight Contests

Nicole McDonough

Norton, MA --- It may have taken extra innings, but WPI softball got it done Friday afternoon in a NEWMAC Championship quarterfinal against Smith, but with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, RI) grounded out to deliver Nicole McDonough (Abington, MA) home from third, sending the Engineers to a 2-1 walk-off win and continuing one of the best seasons in program history.

McDonough darted home after the Smith third baseman cleanly fielded the grounder, looked her back, and fired across the diamond to record the out at first.  Despite a perfect throw home from Smith first baseman, McDonough dove right to avoid the tag, touching home with her left hand.

She started the inning on second base due to the international tiebreaker rule, which went into effect after the seven innings of play and the score tied at 1-1.

Unfortunately, the Boynton Hillers' were sent to the loser's bracket directly afterward against No. 2 seed Wheaton as the host Lyons (30-7) scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning and held on to down WPI 3-1.

The Engineers continue play Saturday (weather permitting) in the three-day, double elimination tournament at 10am against fifth-seeded Babson at Wellesley.

Katie Bumila (Raynham, MA) went 2 for 3 and scored the first WPI run, and she also delivered McDonough over to third base with a successful sacrifice bunt.

Bumila helped the fourth-seeded Crimson and Gray level the score in the sixth with a leadoff triple, later coming home on a Gallagher single.

Clare Doolin (Newton, MA) was excellent in the circle, going all eight innings and facing just three batters over the minimum, retiring the final nine she faced. Doolin racked up a season-high 10 strikeouts, scattered three hits and walked zero batters. Doolin snagged her 15th win and WPI's program-record 26th victory of the season.

Doolin's lone blemish was a second-inning solo home run surrendered to Sarah Tully (West Simsbury, CT) (2 for 3) which sent the No. 6 seed Pioneers (16-12) to a 1-0 lead. Smith held on to that edge over WPI's next four trips to the plate.

Much of that was due to the standout pitching Gina Martucci (Pompton Plains, NJ) who quelled the Engineers over 7-2/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out six.

Brittney Blokker (Seattle, WA) doubled to the gap in left center on just the second at bat of the game in a promising start for the Pioneers.

WPI's Hope Shevchuk (Burlington, CT) singled to start the bottom of the fifth inning and Amanda Pierce (Ware, MA) doubled to lead off the seventh.

The Engineers (26-10) went behind in the second inning of the tournament semifinal against Wheaton. Caroline Medino (Pompton Lakes, NJ) tossed the opening 3-1/3 innings for WPI, giving up just the one unearned as the Lyons' Ashley Vertente (Fairhaven, MA) singled and later came around to score on a fielding error.

As in the first game of the day, the Crimson and Gray fought back to even it up in the sixth inning, with Shevchuk coming through with a bases-loaded knock to score Juliana Fekete (Belgrade, ME) and tie it up at 1-1. Unfortunately, the Lyons' Allison Baker (Orange, CT) was able to escape the danger en route to a complete game win.

Doolin came on to pitch for WPI midway into the fourth inning, but ran out of gas late in her 11th inning of the day, as Wheaton added two runs in the sixth inning on a two-run double by Ashley Brillon (Attleboro, MA) that sealed the final score.

McDonough and Fekete both contributed two hits in the Engineers' semifinal defeat.

Release by Carl Setterlund - WPI Athletics Intern - Emerson '14

Admission Prices for Saturday's games at Wellesley:
Adults- $4
Senior Citizens- $2
Students w/ ID- $1
Children under 12- Free