CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Mitchell College closed out regular season play with a sweep of Wheelock College on Sunday, winning by final scores of 7-2 and 12-7 in New England Collegiate Conference softball action.
The Mariners improved to 11-18 overall and 7-11 in the NECC while the Wildcats concluded their spring with a record of 1-33 and 1-17 in league play. Mitchell has qualified for the 2017 NECC Championship as the seventh seed and will play at second-seeded Lesley University in the opening round on Tuesday, May 2 at 4 p.m.
Game 1 -- Mitchell 7, Wheelock 2
In the opening game, both teams got on the board early. Mitchell started strong as Samantha DelConte led off with a single and stole second before Suzanne Vachon doubled her home. After Vachon advanced to third on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Megan Elphick made it 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
Wheelock struck back in the bottom of the first. Samantha Leahon, Rachael Simpson and Hanna Gootee led off with consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs. Following a strikeout, Dominique DelBene brought a run across on a ground out, but Mitchell escaped the inning without further damage.
Neither team scored again until the Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the fifth. Simpson reached on an error and advanced to third to lead off the inning. Three batters later, with two outs, DelBene sent a fly ball to left-center that appeared to come to rest in a Mariners' glove but popped out at the last second, allowing Simpson to score and tie the game at 2-2.
That tie would be short lived as Mitchell responded in the top of the sixth. A walk, base knock, and hit batter loaded the bases with two down. Breanna Gagnon then hit a single to right that got past the right fielder, and in the blink of an eye all runners crossed home and the Mariners had a 6-2 lead.
The visitors tacked on another run on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Duchesneau in the top of the seventh for the final run of the game.
Four different Wildcats had 2-for-4 days at the plate while Leahon and Simpson each recorded runs. Gootee suffered the loss in the circle, allowing five runs (three earned) over 6.0 innings and striking out four.
The Mariners were led by DelConte who went 2-for-4 with two runs while Gagnon added two RBI. Duchesneau earned the win as she hurled a complete game, allowing two runs (one earned) and fanning three.
Game 2 -- Mitchell 12, Wheelock 7
In the second contest, the two teams again had eventful early innings. Mitchell scored two in the top of the first on a ground out and sacrifice fly, while Wheelock halved the deficit in the bottom of the frame on a ground out.
The second inning brought more fireworks as Vachon doubled home two before patience at the plate resulted in a pair of walks, bringing in another two runs and extending the lead to 6-1. In the bottom of the second, Gootee cut into that lead when she delivered a two-run single through the right side.
Both teams tacked on another run in the fourth as the Mariners got one across after an error, while the Wildcats saw Brianna Hochwarter drive one in on a base hit up the middle.
In the top of the fifth, Mitchell doubled its advantage when DelConte singled a run home, Vachon forced another score in after a walk, and Elphick tacked on a sacrifice fly to make it 10-4.
Wheelock responded in the bottom half of the sixth as DelBene forced a run across on a walk and Katie Walsh drove two more home with a base knock to make it 10-7. Duchesneau then replaced Vachon in the circle to get the final out of the frame with the three-run lead secure.
In the top of the seventh, Elphick sealed the game for the visitors when she drove in two on a double to deep center.
The Wildcats were led by Hochwarter who went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, and Simpson who was 2-for-4 with two runs. DelBene, Gootee, and Walsh each added two RBI while Leahon scored a team-high three runs. Gootee took the loss while throwing a complete game, allowing 12 runs (eight earned).
Vachon led the Mariners with a fantastic afternoon, going 3-for-3 with a walk, three RBI and four runs. DelConte was 2-for-4 with a walk, two RBI and three runs while Elphick added a team-best four RBI. Vachon also earned the win in the circle, allowing seven runs (five earned) over 5.2 innings and striking out three. Duchesneau closed out the final 1.1 frames for the save.