WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Endicott softball team has earned the right to play Tufts for a NCAA Division III Regional title and a spot among the final 16 teams still alive in the national tournament after going 2-0 on Saturday, eliminating both Lesley and Williams from contention. Endicott eliminated Lesley from a NCAA Regional Tournament for the second time in four years while earning the program's first victory over NESCAC opponent Williams in program history.
Endicott and Tufts will play at 12:00 pm on Sunday with a second game, if necessary, to begin shortly afterwards. The Gulls and Jumbos met back on April 22nd when Tufts was ranked #4 in the country. Tufts defeated Endicott in that doubleheader by scores of 1-0 and 3-0.
Game 1: Endicott 11, Lesley 4
In the elimination game of the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament at the New England Regionals the Blue and Green soared to an 11-4 victory over the Lynx to stay alive in the tournament. Endicott got on the board early in the bottom of the first as senior Jesse Bilafer (Concord, Mass.) advanced to home plate on a wild pitch for the first run of the inning. Sophomore Sam DiBella (Danvers, Mass.) followed suit as she singled to centerfield to send sophomore Jaime Corda (Higganum, Conn.) home for a 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless second inning by both sides the Lynx made it a tie game at two apiece in the top of the third on an RBI walk by sophomore Angela Mukai (Amherst, N.H.) and off an illegal pitch by junior pitcher Meg Donegan (Atkinson, N.H.).
In the top of the fourth the Lynx took a one run lead off a solo homerun by sophomore Jess Reynolds (Londonderry, N.H.). The lead would not last for long however as Endicott posted two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take back the lead. The first came off an RBI by senior Alex Moise (North Reading, Mass.) as she singled to left field to send freshman Chrissy Gikas (Danvers, Mass.) around the bases. The second came on a fielding error by the Lynx as Moise was able to advance to home.
In the top of the fifth, Lesley tied up the game one more time as senior Nicole Mercurio (Wakefield, Mass.) reached home plate off an RBI by Mukai. The tie would be the last in the seven inning game as the Gulls took the lead for the final time in the bottom of the fifth off an RBI by Gikas to send sophomore Emily Hoffman (Malden, Mass.) around the bases.
In the bottom of the sixth the Blue and Green tallied six runs off six hits to secure the 11-4 victory. Moise led with two ribbies while Corda posted four hits on the day. Endicott saw three Gulls in the circle as sophomore Courtney Blake (East Islip, N.Y.), Donegan, and senior Nell O'Connor (Harwich, Mass.) all saw time pitching for Endicott.
With the victory Endicott advanced to a second elimination game of the day as they faced Williams following Lesley game.
Game Two: Endicott 4, Williams 3
Endicott faced elimination heading into the bottom of the seventh, trailing Williams 3-2 after the Ephs put up three runs in the top half of the inning on a game-tying two-run single by Erica Li (Salt Lake City, Utah) and a go-ahead groundout by Ali Graebner (Short Hills, N.J.) to score Li.
In the bottom of the seventh, Gulls junior outfielder Jess Linden (Stratford, Conn.) led off the inning with a single up the middle for one of her two hits on the day. Bilafer followed and dropped a sacrifice bunt to third that advanced Linden to second with one out. After a foul out made it two outs, Corda hit a ball sharply to third that ricocheted off the third baseman's glove into left field, allowing Linden to round third and score the game-tying run while Corda advanced into scoring position at second base. DiBella delivered possible her biggest RBI of the season as she drove an offering to center for a double that was good enough score Corda for the walk-off victory.
O'Connor (15-3) pitched a complete game for the Gulls, allowing three unearned runs on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts. O'Connor was handed a two-run lead in the bottom of the fourth as sophomore Emily Hoffman (Malden, Mass.) reached on an error by the Ephs shortstop which also allowed DiBella to score from third base. The very next batter, senior Kelley Michael (Ipswich, Mass.) hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Rachel Couto (Chelmsford, Mass.) from third base.