BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Bridgewater State College softball team will be returning to the NCAA Division III Championships after a one-year hiatus as the Bears knocked off Westfield State College, 5-1, to capture the 2008 MASCAC Tournament title. The tournament championship is BSC's sixth in the eight-year history of the event.
The top seeded Bears (26-15) went undefeated at the tournament posting a 3-0 record. After defeating Framingham State on Thursday, 4-2, the Bears earned a spot in Sunday's championship round by shutting out Westfield in the winner's bracket final on Saturday afternoon, 4-0.
Junior center fielder Allie LeBlanc (Somerset, MA) and junior pitcher Alyssa Verronneau (Acushnet, MA) continued their stellar play in the tournament to lead BSC to the clinching victory.
LeBlanc belted her second home run of the tournament and drove in three more runs to finish with nine RBI in the three games. Verronneau earned her third win as she threw four shutout innings in relief.
Westfield opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first on an RBI single by junior first baseman Katie Gorman (Feeding Hills, MA). Gorman drove in junior center fielder Jackie Mason (Florida, MA) who led off the game with a base hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
BSC threatened in each of the first two innings but was unable to push across a run. The Bears left runners on second and third in the first inning and two more on in the second.
Bridgewater however was able to break through in the bottom of the third thanks once again to LeBlanc. With one out, sophomore right fielder Meghan Noyes (Stoughton, MA) lined a base hit up the middle. LeBlanc then drove a 2-0 pitch over the centerfield fence to give BSC the 2-1 lead. For LeBlanc it was her third home run of the season.
Verronneau (16-5) came on to start the fourth and kept Westfield off the board the rest of the way. She allowed just one hit, walked two and struck out four. For the tournament, Verronneau posted a 0.77 earned run average with 28 strikeouts in 18 innings of work.
The Bears plated three more runs in the bottom of the fifth as freshman left fielder Tracey Sanko (Windsor, CT) reached on an error to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Noyes. LeBlanc followed with a RBI single to right center to score Sanko from second. One out later, junior shortstop Rachael Sprague (Duxbury, MA) belted a two-run homer over the leftfield fence to give BSC the 5-1 lead.
LeBlanc, Sprague and senior DP Ciana Godin (Worcester, MA) led BSC's ten-hit attack with two hits apiece. LeBlanc and Sprague both finished 2-for-3 at the plate while Godin went 2-for-4 with a pair of base hits.
Sophomore pitcher Jamie Ducinski (Duxbury, MA) hurled the first three innings for BSC and allowed just the one run on three hits. She walked two and struck out two in her three innings of work before turning the game over to Verronneau.
Freshman Alicia Gardner (Athol, MA) allowed two runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout in three innings of work for the Owls. Junior Chelsea Sylvia (South Dartmouth, MA) pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief giving up three unearned runs on four hits while striking out two.
With the loss, Westfield falls to 23-13 on the season. The Owls will await word on a possible ECAC Tournament bid. The ECAC pairings will be released on Monday.
Bridgewater, who will be making the program's 19th trip to the NCAA Tournament and ninth in the last eleven years, will await word on the NCAA Tournament pairings which are expected to be announced later on this evening.
BSC advanced to the NCAAs for the first time in 1984 followed by a trip in 1986. The Bears made seven straight appearances from 1988 to 1994. In 1994, BSC lost in the national championship game to Trenton State by a score of 6-5.
Bridgewater was back in the tournament in 1996, and then made five consecutive trips from 1998 to 2002 and three straight from 2004 to 2006.
|Thursday, May 1 at Higher Seeds|
|Game 1||No. 1 Bridgewater State vs. No. 4 Framingham State||BSC Won, 4-2||Box Score||Recap|
|Game 2||No. 2 Westfield State vs. No. 3 Salem State||WSC Won, 5-0||Box Score||Recap|
|Saturday, May 3 at Bridgewater State College|
|Game 3||No. 3 Salem State vs. No. 4 Framingham State||SSC Won, 2-1||Box Score||Recap|
|Game 4||No. 1 Bridgewater State vs. No. 2 Westfield State||BSC Won, 4-0||Box Score||Recap|
|Game 5||No. 2 Westfield State vs. No. 3 Salem State||WSC Won, 3-2||Box Score||Recap|
|Sunday, May 4 at Bridgewater State College|
|Game 6||No. 1 Bridgewater State vs No. 2 Westfield State||BSC Won, 5-1||Box Score||Recap|