FRANKLIN, Mass. – Southern Vermont College put three runs across the plate Tuesday evening at Dean College's Grant Field, but a seven-run first inning by top-seeded Newbury College helped the Nighthawks win their opening round game of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) softball tournament in five innings by a 13-3 margin.
SVC concludes the 2017 campaign with an overall record of 4-21. Tuesday was just the Mountaineers' second-ever playoff appearance.
Southern Vermont put up a lone run in the top of the first, but NC answered with seven scores to take a lead over the eighth-seeded squad. The Nighthawks tacked on three more in the second before SVC made it a 10-2 game with a single run in the third. Both teams tallied a solo run in their next at bat, and the hosts then added two more in the bottom of the fourth before closing it out in the fifth.
SVC junior catcher Nicole Matthews (Pittstown, N.Y.) was 1-3 with a home run while freshman first baseman Carly Gillman (Stamford, Conn.) went 1-2 with an RBI-triple. Freshman second baseman Brooke Gates (Pittsfield, Mass.) had a 1-2 showing with a run scored, and junior righty Shea Wilson (Mesa, Ariz.) was 1-3 while crossing the dish once.
Wilson will finish out the NCAA Division III year at least tied for being one of the hardest players to strikeout in the country; she did not go down by way of the K a single time in 2017 through 65 at bats (73 plate appearances). As of Monday morning, she was tied with eight other players around DIII who had not yet struck out while having at least two at bats per game and had played in at least 75 percent of their team's total contests.
Wilson took the loss (3-15) from the circle while recording one strikeout with the ball.
A single through the left side off of Wilson's bat started the game before she moved to third as the Mountaineers loaded the bases in the top of the first. Freshman left fielder Sarah Billow (South Glens Falls, N.Y.) then knocked one deep enough to center for Wilson to tag up and score for the 1-0 edge.
Newbury came back in a big way despite the first two Nighthawks flying out to center in the bottom of the first. An infield miscue allowed the inning to continue, and NC made it hurt as the hosts crossed the plate seven times on six hits to stake a lead that would not be relinquished.
The Nighthawks added three more in the second before SVC trimmed its deficit in the third. With one down, Matthews launched her fourth home run of the year over the fence in center to make it a 10-2 score.
NC came right back with one of its own in the bottom of the third before Gates got aboard in the fourth with a two-out single up the middle. Gillman then raked her run-scoring triple to the gap in left-center to bring her classmate around to score.
That would be it for the Mountaineers, however, as Newbury scored twice in the fourth before sitting down the SVC side in order in the fifth to advance to the weekend's double-elimination tournament.
– #LetsGoSVC –