BOSTON, Mass. – Mount Ida College put together a seventh inning rally to cut a 5-1 deficit to a one run contest, but couldn't push the final run across and fell 5-4 to Emmanuel College in the First Round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) softball tournament at Roberto Clemente Field.
The Mustangs, who were the number eight seed in the postseason for the second consecutive year, end their year with a 13-22 record, while the number five Saints improve to 23-15 on the year and advance to the weekend bracket.
Michele MacDonald (N. Dighton, Mass.) had three hits and scored twice at the top of the Mount Ida lineup, and Lucianna Medici (Riverside, R.I.) and Emma Morton (Winchester, Mass.) each had two hits, including RBI singles in the top of the seventh as the Mustangs got four hits and scored three runs without making an out, but left the tying run at first base.
Emmanuel sophomore third baseman Abbey Alexiades (Kingston, Mass.) got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning with a solo blast to centerfield putting the Saints on top, 1-0. Alexiades smashed a 1-2 pitch over the centerfield fence for her first homer of the year and her second career blast.
The Mustangs threatened in the third but Emmanuel worked out of a bases loaded jam to maintain the 1-0 lead. Junior Sam Laferriere (Tewksbury, Mass.) worked a one-out walk before MacDonald reached via an infield single. Medici singled up the middle with a crisp line drive, hit too hard to allow Laferriere to score and load the bases for Mount Ida with two down. EC was able to induce a ground ball to get the force out to end the inning.
Mount Ida loaded the bases again in the fourth inning on a hard hit single up the middle by freshman Kelsey Weston (Hampstead, N.H.). EC junior pitcher Jill Kilcoyne (Worcester, Mass.) worked her way out of the jam for the second straight inning, recording back-to-back strikeouts to retire the side and preserve Emmanuel's 1-0 cushion.
The Saints bumped the lead to 2-0 with the help of an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman catcher Casey Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) led off the inning with a single and came around to score following a Mount Ida miscue to account for the two-run advantage.
Mount Ida got the run back in the fifth to cut the host's lead to 2-1. MacDonald led off with an infield single. She'd get into scoring position stealing second and advancing to third on and error, eventually scoring on an RBI single up the middle by Morton to make it a one-run game.
Emmanuel added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to regain a two-run lead at 3-1. Freshman centerfield Olivia Burgos (Newington, Conn.) led off the frame with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on an infield single by senior Marianne Halas (Lynn, Mass.). Senior second baseman Kerrianne Vulpis (East Rockaway, N.Y.) delivered a sac-fly to drive in Burgos increase the lead back to two.
The Saints looked like they had put the game away in the sixth with two more runs to make it 5-1. Burgos delivered the big blow with a two-out, two-RBI triple to right field.
Kilcoyne earned the win to improve to 16-6 on the year while Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) suffered the loss to end the season with a 9-13 record. Handzel walked just one and struck out six batters, increasing her conference-leading and Mount Ida College single-season program record total to 197 K's.
Emmanuel will now face No. 4 Norwich University at 2:00 PM on Friday, May 6 at Suffolk University. The weekend bracket is a double-loss elimination format with the last team standing crowned the 2016 GNAC Champion.