Bangor, Maine - Husson needed a pair of wins against the number four seeded Terriers of Thomas College to claim their fourth straight North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Softball Championship, and thanks to solid pitching and some timely hitting, that's exactly what happened as the Eagles defeated Thomas 6-0 and 9-1 on a windy Sunday at O'Keefe Softball Field.
In the first game of the day, the Eagles sent Becca McCarty (Skowhegan, Maine) to the circle, and the sophomore threw seven shut-out innings to secure the complete game shutout victory, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out four.
For Thomas, Kelsey Crowe (Gorham, Maine) toed the rubber, tossing a complete game while allowing six runs (four earned) on 11 hits, a walk and four strikeouts.
Offensively, Husson was led by 2012 NAC Rookie of the Year Victoria Overlock (Belfast, Maine) who went 2-4 with two RBI and a run scored hitting in the number three spot. Lead-off hitter Courtney Hill (Calais, Maine) also hit .500 in the game, going 2-4 as well, scoring twice and swiping a pair of bases. The Eagles got production out of the bottom of their order as both Heidi Shaw (Manchester, Maine) and Lona Sargent (Sullivan, Maine) added two hits of their own to the cause.
For the Terriers, second baseman Lauren Hachey (Oakland, Maine) was the only batter to turn in a multi-hit performance, going 2-3 at the dish for Thomas, while catcher Samantha Moore (Etna, Maine) also reached base twice, going 1-2 while drawing a walk.
Both teams were relatively quiet in the first, mounting just one hit between the two teams. In the top of the second, the Eagles - who were the visiting team as the Terriers entered the game undefeated in NAC Tournament play - scratched across the game's first run. Ashley Smith (Ellsworth, Maine) led off the inning with a double to left center, and stole third while Thomas made outs by way of a strikeout and pop fly. Shaw came to the plate with two out and singled up the middle to drive in Smith and the game's first run.
Thomas nearly answered in the bottom of the inning when Hachey singled down the left field line, and advanced to second on an Ali Kriegel (Winslow, Maine) single up the middle. First baseman Kate Thibodeau (Woolwich, Maine) ripped a ball up the middle that looked like it would score Hachey from second, but a strong throw home from L. Sargent kept the Terriers off the board.
Both pitchers kept the bats at bay in the third and fourth, but the Eagles opened things up with a five run inning in the top of the 5th. L. Sargent beat out an infield single to lead off the inning and quickly stole second. Hill slapped down a pitch and sped down the first base line for another infield single as L. Sargent moved up to third. Hill swiped second, and after an out, Overlock reached on an error and advanced to second, picking up the RBI as L. Sargent scored while Hill took third. Hill scored on a passed ball, then Chelsea Brennan (Woonsocket, R.I.) drove in Overlock on a ground out to make it 4-0 in favor of the Eagles. After Smith drew a walk, Deb Colpitts (Levant, Maine) was hit by a pitch, sending Aimee Mortensen (Biddeford, Maine) to the plate, and the 2011 NAC Player of the Year singled through the left side to plate Smith and it was 5-0 after five.
The Eagles added one more in the top of the sixth when Overlock singled down the left field line, scoring Hill and giving Husson the 6-0 victory.
After a quick turn-around, both teams came back for the second game of the day, switching Home and Away designations.
Husson sent McCarty back to the circle for game two, and the right-handed hurler followed up her complete game shutout with another solid performance. McCarty threw a complete five innings, allowing one run (unearned) on two hits and a walk while fanning seven of the 18 batters she faced.
For Thomas, senior pitcher Sara Pavento (Glenburn, Maine) took the ball for game two, earning the loss over a complete game four innings pitched, giving nine runs on as many hits with two walks allowed.
The Eagles mounted nine hits in game two, off the bats of eight different hitters. Overlock was the leading batter in game two, going 2-3 at the dish with three RBI and a run scored. Senior Brianna Webster (Belfast, Maine) drove in two runs while scoring another on a 1-3 performance.
The Terriers were led by Moore once again as she plated her team's only run while going 1-2 out of the lead-off spot. Hachey got the other hit for Thomas while hitting 1-2, and Crowe - who played first base in the second game - was the only other Terrier to reach base in the game, drawing a walk.
Husson got on the board first in the home half of the opening inning as Hill led off the game with a single to third base. A productive out moved Hill to second, and Overlock doubled off the base of the wall in center, plating the game's first run.
Thomas got one back in the third when Moore hit a two-out infield single, and came around to score on Husson error that tied the game at 1-1 after three.
The Eagles broke the game open in the fourth, exploding for eight runs in the home half of the inning. Nicole Sargent (Sullivan, Maine) doubled to left center to lead off the inning, and moved to third on a Mortensen double to right. Kayla Merrill (Bethel, Maine) came in to pinch run for N. Sargent, and was safe on a play at the plate when Hill reached on a fielder's choice that broke the deadlock. L. Sargent hit a single that plated Mortensen, and an intentional walk to Hill brought Webster to the plate with the bases loaded. The senior left fielder ripped a double down the left field line that plated a pair, and Overlock cleared the bases with a triple to right field. Brennan kept the rally going with an RBI ground out to second base, giving Husson the 8-1 lead. Smith singled to left field, and after a pop-out, stole second and came in to score the important run on a throwing error.
Trailing 9-1 in the top of the fifth, the Terriers needed a run to keep the game going. McCarty continued to deal in her 12th inning of work, putting down Thomas in order to give Husson their fourth consecutive North Atlantic Conference Softball Championship.
The Eagles earned the Conference's automatic qualification for the NCAA Tournament, and will await their fate during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday, May 7th at 10:00 am.
After the game, the NAC All-Tournament team was announced, featuring two players from New England College and Castleton, along with three from NAC Runner-Up Thomas College and three including the Tournament Most Valuable Player from the Champion Eagles.
NAC All-Tournament Team
LiAnn Linck - NEC
Taylor Belsito - NEC
Tori Fearon - Castleton
Shannon Jipner - Castleton
Sara Pavento - Thomas
Samantha Moore - Thomas
Kelsey Crowe - Thomas
Heidi Shaw - Husson
Brianna Webster - Husson
Becca McCarty - Husson - MVP