BABSON PARK, MA --- A huge seventh inning broke open a pitcher's duel as #2 WPI upended #1 Babson, 6-1, in the NEWMAC Softball Tournament winner's bracket final on Friday at Babson. The Engineers snapped Babson's 19-game win streak to improve to 29-13, while the Beavers fall to 35-7 overall.
WPI, the last remaining undefeated team in the tournament, now advances to Saturday's championship game. The Engineers will await the winner of the Babson and MIT elimination game, which will be played at noon on Saturday. The championship game will follow.
WPI's Katie Martin (Bedford, NH) and Babson's Moira O'Reilly (Columbus, Ohio) battled through much of a 1-1 game before the Engineers struck for a solo run in the sixth and a huge four-spot in the seventh inning to seal the victory.
Martin got the win to move to 19-4 on the season, throwing seven innings, allowing one run on six hits with three strikeouts. O'Reilly took the loss, moving to 19-3, tossing a complete game, allowing four runs, only two earned, on six hits with nine strikeouts.
Both teams scored in the first inning. WPI's run came as a lead-off walk to Sydney Russell (Arlington, VA) scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Alicia Salvalzo (Hudson, NH). Babson answered as an Audrey Labouliere (Pipersville, PA) single was sent home on a double from Kate Karamouzis (Rockville Centre, NY).
The pitchers' duel heated up from there, with neither allowing another run until WPI dented the scoreboard in the top of the sixth. Bunt singles from Russell and Alex Sheehan (Marion, MA) put two runners on with one out before Salvalzo reached on an error to load the bases. The next WPI batter struck out but Kelly Pritchard (Orange, CT) drew a walk to score a run, making it 2-1. O'Reilly then got out of the bases-loaded jam with another strikeout.
After a quick bottom of the sixth, WPI loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with two outs. Kallie Case (Arlington, VA) and Russell were both hit by pitches, while Sheehan bunted safely for the third runner of the frame. Salvalzo then got the big hit of the inning, clearing the bases on a single to right field and benefitting from a throwing error to make it a 5-1 game. Shaina Lazarus (Thousand Oaks, CA) then provided an insurance run with a single up the middle, making it 6-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Babson's Chloe Joslin (Wyoming, RI) led off with a double, but a liner up the middle was snagged by Martin, who doubled up the runner on second. A groundout then ended the inning and the game in WPI's favor.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JON ENDOW