SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Salve Regina University softball pitching tandem of Nicole Parry (Quincy, Mass.) and Kelsey Boarman (No. Dighton, Mass.) combined for their second straight shutout and the Seahawks posted their third shutout of the postseason, 2-0, to capture the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship against Roger Williams University at Golden Bear Park.
The title marks the fifth in the history of Salve Regina softball which earns its first trip to the NCAA Division III Softball Championships with the conference champion's automatic bid.
Salve Regina (24-16; 14-4 CCC) entered the CCC postseason as the No. 3 seed and goes undefeated in four games - winning 8-0 against No. 6 Eastern Nazarene and 5-4 against No. 2 Endicott on Tuesday, then scoring a 7-0 victory against top seed Western New England on Thursday.
That Seahawk victory forced the Golden Bears to face the Hawks in an elimination game earlier today. No. 5 seed Roger Williams (24-19; 12-6 CCC) had a 5-1 record in the tournament before the final game. The Hawks started in single-elimination play with a five-inning 8-0 win against No. 8 seed Gordon last Saturday.
After rain postponed the start of double-elimination phase to Tuesday, Roger Williams upset No. 4 University of New England, 3-2, in nine innings. Later that same day, the Hawks and Golden Bears posted zeroes for nine consecutive innings before the top seed prevailed with a run in the 10th frame. On Thursday, Roger Williams won twice - defeating Eastern Nazarene and eliminating the Lions, 7-2; then defeating Endicott and eliminating the Gulls, 6-5.
Facing elimination with a scheduled 11 a.m. start, the Hawks and Golden Bears did not begin play until 1:20 p.m. due to rain and field conditions.
Roger Williams defeated Western New England, 2-0, and eliminated the defending conference champions to set up the final game(s) with Salve Regina. Seahawks needed to win one game to eliminate the Hawks for the title, while Roger Williams needed to sweep a pair to claim the crown.
Parry started in the circle and gave up just two hits (one in the first, another in the second) over three innings and stranded both runners. Salve Regina second baseman Francesca Galeazzi (Lynn, Mass.) led off the bottom of the first with a first-pitch single over third base. Left fielder Lindsey Florent (New Bedford, Mass.) beat out a bunt single. After a fielder's choice removed Galeazzi from the base paths, Kara O'Riley (Acton, Mass.) grounded out to first to put Seahawk runners on second and third.
A wild pitch from Hawks' starter Mary Adametz (Higganum, Conn.) allowed Florent to score with the first run from third.
Salve Regina also had base hits from the first two batters in the second inning - Lexi Soucie (No. Easton, Mass.) and senior catcher captain Genevieve Benoit (Swampscott, Mass.) - but no advancement beyond second base.
Boarman inherited the 1-0 lead when she started to work the top of the fourth. Sophomore shortstop Haley Ledbetter (Westerly, R.I.), batting from the left side, grounded to the left side of the infield with third baseman Elizabeth Lombardo (Thomaston, Conn.) getting a piece to slow it down, and Amanda Riley (Barrington, N.H.) backhanded the ball, but Ledbetter beat the throw to first. Boarman stranded Ledbetter at second and allowed only a harmless single the rest of the way.
Salve Regina added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth with Benoit lining a one-out triple to right field. Fellow senior captain Melissa Figueiredo (East Bridgewater, Mass.) pinch ran for her classmate and scored the second run on Megan Guest's (Meriden, Conn.) RBI single to left field.
Galeazzi added her second base hit later in the fourth inning, the last of eight hits in the game for Salve Regina.
Pitching and defense finished the job for Salve Regina. Boarman induced three straight groundouts in the final inning. First baseman Emily Woznick (Sandy Hook, Conn.) took the first play unassisted before Lombardo intercepted a grounder headed for the hole on the left side and gunned to Woznick for the second out. Galeazzi got in front of a grounder up the middle and threw to Woznick for the final out and Seahawks celebrated a championship.
Salve Regina, under head coach Jessica DePolito, becomes the fifth different CCC softball champion in the last five years - U. of New England (2012), Roger Williams (2013), Endicott (2014), and Western New England (2015). Previous titles for Salve Regina include three straight with head coach Tricia Cronin (1993, 1994, and 1995) as well as one during the one-year coaching stint for Ron Manton (1999).
The Seahawks will learn their spot in the NCAAs during a selection show on Monday.