NEWPORT, R.I. - Second-seeded Salve Regina University softball fell to sixth-seeded University of New England, 6-2 in eight innings, as the Nor'easters advanced in the winner's bracket of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Softball Championships. Earlier at Toppa Field, the Nor'easters (20-18) defeated Endicott College, 3-1.
The Seahawks (20-19) and Gulls (15-18) advance in the loser's bracket and will play Roger Williams and Curry, respectively, on Thursday in Springfield, Mass., as top-seeded Western New England University serves as the host for the remainder of the double-elimination tournament. The Golden Bears defeated the Colonels, 7-4, after Curry had downed Roger Williams, 3-1.
All six remaining schools continue in the CCC championships, but half will be eliminated by Thursday. University of New England and Western New England have assured themselves of advancing to Saturday's final round.
Game Four: Nor'easters 3, Gulls 1
Endicott scored its lone run in the first inning on a two-out double by designated player Julia McNeill (Hauppage, N.Y.). Nor'easters starting pitcher Abby Lambert (Brockton, Mass.) kept the Gulls from crossing the plate the rest of the way while striking out nine.
University of New England tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the fourth with a baserunning gamble. Amanda Vallante (Dracut, Mass.) led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice, and third on a grounder to short. Lambert drew a two-out walk to put runners at the corners, and then intentionally got caught in a rundown between first and second. Vallante dashed home before Lambert was tagged out.
Mollie Bartles (Torrington, Conn.) led off the fifth frame with a single before a sacrifice and then a single from Paige Moore-Haskell (Scarborough, Maine) put the two at the corners. Cat Ouellette (Winthrop, Maine) delivered the go-ahead run with the third hit of the inning. The Nor'easters tacked on an unearned insurance run when the Gulls committed a throwing error.
Game Six: Nor'easters 6, Seahawks 2 (eight innings)
Starting pitchers - Nicole Parry (Quincy, Mass.) for Salve Regina, Katelyn Austin (Bethlehem, N.H.) for U. of New England - breezed through the first four innings with minor threats. The Nor'easters had two basehits in the second inning, but leftfielder Skye Hart (Hope Valley, R.I.) threw a runner out at the plate to end the threat.
The Seahawks had two runners aboard in both the third and fourth innings. Hart's ground-rule double in the third was the first batter on base for Salve Regina after Austin retired the first seven she faced. Hart led off the fifth inning with a solo blast to centerfield, her third home run of the season, to give Salve Regina a 1-0 lead.
CCC Rookie of the Year Francesca Galeazzi (Lynn, Mass.) slashed a single back to Austin in the pitcher's circle, and advanced to second on the play before stealing third base. The manufactured run was completed on Nikki Bukovsky's (Westport, Mass.) sacrifice liner to centerfield.
The 2-0 advantage evaporated quickly as Ouellette doubled in the first Nor'easter run in the top of the sixth, and later tied the score after Vallante's two-out double.
After surrendering a leadoff single to Kelly Murphy (Cromwell, Conn.), Parry stranded the potential go-ahead run at third in the top of the seventh on three successive groundouts. Lauren Fountain (Cheshire, Conn.) led off the Seahawk seventh with a single to center and was lifted for pinch-runner Taylor Parry (Quincy, Mass.). Hart popped to second base before Galeazzi beat out another infield single.
Austin retired the next two Seahawks on a fly to center and a strikeout.
Her teammates produced four runs on four hits in the extra frame, highlighted by a bases-loaded double from Adrienne Chase (Holden, Mass.). Lambert, playing first base in this game, stroked a two-out, two-run single to right center.
In the Seahawk eighth, Kara O'Riley (Acton, Mass.) and Lindsay DelGrego (Wallingford, Conn.) reached on singles off Austin before the righty got Fountain on a liner back to the pitcher's circle to end the game.
Austin and Lambert improved their personal records to 7-5 and 8-7, respectively, for the Nor'easters, while Courtney Blake (East Islip, N.Y.) took the loss for Endicott in the opener to fall to 13-4, and Nicole Parry suffered the setback in the latter, now with an 11-9 mark on the season.