Bangor, ME - The Husson University softball team came into Saturday's doubleheader with the New England College Pilgrims fresh off an exciting two-game sweep of tough opponent Bowdoin College on Friday.
The Eagles would ride the wave of momentum to the fullest, and pick up two more North Atlantic Conference victories in a pair of games which could not have played out any differently. Husson needed extra-innings to walk-off with a win in game one 11-10, but it took just five innings for the Eagles to trounce the Pilgrims in game two by a 13-0 score.
Husson sophomore Allie Hill (Calais, ME) would prove to be the hero in game one, knocking a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning that plated Kayla Merrill (Bethel, ME) with the winning run. Merrill would then dominate NEC from the pitching circle in game two, picking up her ninth win of the season.
NEC would jump out to a quick lead in game one when Rebecca Allen brought home Taylor Belsito with a base-hit in the top of the first inning.
Husson would waste no time in tying the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the first, and taking the lead with a Haley Spiers (Rochester, NH) RBI single in the second frame.
The Eagles would then put up a three-spot in the third, highlighted by a Chelsea Brennan (Woonsocket, RI) line-drive home run to left field. The round-tripper, which cleared the fence in a hurry, was Brennan's third of the season.
Husson took a seemingly comfortable 6-1 lead into the top of the fifth inning when the Pilgrims would explode for eight runs on six singles and two Eagle errors. NEC sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning which saw them storm back to take a 9-6 advantage.
Husson got one run back in the bottom of the fifth on a Jess Poulin (Albion, ME) solo homer, and they put together a two-run rally in the sixth as Lyndsay Merrill (Bethel, ME) and Casey Lopes (New Bedford, MA) each notched RBI singles to tie it at 9-9.
Neither team would put up a tally in the seventh inning, so the game headed to extras where each team is automatically granted a runner on second base to start the inning.
Husson reliever Alannah Healy (Brockton, MA) was able to get the first two NEC batters out in the eighth before Stephanie Teixeira lined a single up the middle to bring home the placed runner Alex Swanson to make it 10-9 Pilgrims.
The Eagles would start the bottom of the inning with Mallory Conary (Warren, ME) on second base, and she would advance to third on a Kayla Merrill infield single to make it first and third with no outs. Allie Hill would then come up for Husson, and Merrill would attempt to steal second base on a 1-2 pitch. NEC's catcher Teixeira unsuccessfully threw through to try and cut her down, and Connary would alertly come in to score from third to tie the game at 10-10.
Hill would then run the count full at 3-2 before lining a shot to left field which chased home Kayla Merril for the walk-off win, the Eagles' second in as many days.
Healy picked up her second straight victory in the circle for the Eagles, coming in to pitch 3.1 innings of one-run ball. Hill went 4-for-4 in game one, while Spiers went 3-for-4 from the number eight spot in the order.
Christina Rubiano led the Pilgrim offense in game one with a 3-for-5 showing with an RBI and a run scored.
Game two was on the other end of the spectrum in terms of scoring margin, as the Eagles stayed hot on offense to run away with a run-rule shortened victory.
Hill continued to be a force at the plate, going 3-for-4 including her second home run of the year--a three-run blast that cleared the left field fence. Brennan went 3-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Lyndsey Merrill, Lopes, and Poulin all added two hits.
Kayla Merrill improved to 9-2 in the pitching circle with the win, surrendering just three hits and one walk while striking out four.
Lopes continued her hot-streak at the plate, going a combined 4-for-6 in the doubleheader with a double, two RBI, two runs scored, and two walks. The first-year catcher is now nine for her last 13 at the dish, including four doubles and five RBI. She is also now hitting at an even .400 (34-for-85) for the season.
Husson's coach Kristie Hawkins was impressed with how her team came out after two grinding games yesterday, saying, "Those nail-biters are hard to come back from but it's so good to see that the team can come together and pull out wins. We came out to play, and we came out to play hard. The second game was a huge turn-around."
The Eagles now own the best start in program history with a 19-7 overall record. More importantly, they remain unbeaten in the NAC at 9-0. With just six regular-season games to play, the five-time defending NAC champion Eagles have the inside track to earn home field advantage come playoff time.
NEC falls to 7-13 overall with the losses, and 1-7 in the NAC.
Husson has three doubleheaders left on the schedule, all coming in the middle of next week. The Eagles will travel to UMaine-Farmington for two NAC games on Tuesday, followed by hosting twin-bills against out-of-conference foe Bates College on Wednesday and NAC opponent Thomas College on Thursday.