The NECC Softball Tournament: EAGLES RISE FROM DEAD, STUN REGIS IN 7th, 11-10
Nashua – For six and a half frustrating innings, the Daniel Webster softball team struggled mightily in their NECC first round matchup with Regis.
Luckily, there's always one last inning in softball to make amends.
With almost no pulse to detect and trailing 10-5 entering the bottom of the seventh - including trailing by two runs with two outs - the third-seeded Eagles staged the greatest comeback in program history, and one of the greatest comebacks ever on DWC soil, scoring six times to stun the sixth-seeded Pride, 11-10 Wednesday at Eagle Field.
Freshman Sarah Durocher (Keene, N.H.) dropped a blooping 1-1 pitch into shallow center allowing senior Amy Waller (Berlin, Mass.) to score from third as the Eagles (21-17) advanced to the NECC final four double elimination tournament that runs Friday through Sunday at Wellesley College with top-seeded Lesley as tournament host.
The Eagles will face second-seeded Mitchell on Friday at Noon. Fourth-seeded Elms will take on top-seeded Lesley at 10:00 a.m.
"It's indescribable," said Eagle first year Head Coach Danielle Delponte. "We've been resilient all season and today was another example of that. I give all of them credit. They stayed focused in a high-pressure situation and each of them delivered."
DWC was justifiably left for dead entering the final frame. While the Eagle top four in the order – Waller, Durocher, Lauren Chesnulevich (Hudson, N.H.) and Chelsey Crawford (Westfield, Mass.) had combined to go 9 for 15 over the first six innings, the next five in the order had combined to go 0 for 15.
But in the seventh, three of the bottom five delivered when it mattered most as part of an improbable seven-hit rally.
Chesnulevich started things off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Crawford single for a 10-6 game. After a fly out, Heather Strong (Palmer, Mass.) notched her first hit, putting runners at the corners.
After Amanda Wilson (Merrimack, N.H.) flew to right for the second out, Courtney Brennan (Beverly, Mass.) followed with a two-run single to left, making it 10-8. Lexie Fontaine (Plymouth, Mass.) then sent a single up the middle scoring Brennan from second to make it 10-9.
Waller, who was monstrous throughout finishing 5 for 5 with a double to that point, delivered the most clutch hit of her career, crushing 1-1 delivery to deep left center sending Fontaine all the way around with the tying run and Durocher followed with her blooper to cap the comeback.
Durocher (11-8) would pick up the win in relief of the starter Wilson, allowing two earned runs over the final two innings on four hits.
Chesnulevich equaled Waller's clutch hitting, going 4 for 4 with a triple, scoring twice and knocking in two. Durocher was 2 for 5 knocking in two, and Crawford finished 2 for 4 with a triple and two RBI.
Cassie Langone (Chichester, N.H.) 3 for 4 with three RBI for Regis, which finished its campaign 8-24 overall. Kendra Daniels (Jaffrey, N.H.) was 3 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Kara Donovan was also 3 for 4.
Sarah Porteus (S. Wellfleet, Mass.) took the loss (2-7) while Emily Pickett (Wrentham, Mass.), who had two hits, was touched for the final hit in relief.
The teams traded runs in the first inning and Regis scored three in the top of the third keyed by a Katie Blackburn (Milford, Mass.) RBI single and a two-run double from Daniels.
Waller singled to lead off the third, scored on Chesnulevich's triple, and Crawford tripled to score Chesnulevich for a 4-3 game in the bottom of the third.
A Langone two-run double and Samantha Bliss (Framingham, Mass.) sac fly to score Porteus in the fifth made it 7-3 and DWC tacked on two in the bottom the frame on a Chesnulevich run-scoring single and a Strong ground out to plate Durocher for a 7-5 game.
Regis looked to be in command after sending eight to the plate in a three-run sixth that included back-to-back RBI singles from Porteus and Langone, before the Eagle rally.
Game Note: In a roster curiousity, three Eagles - Crawford, Wilson, and first baseman Samantha Hill (Hudson, N.H.) - were part of the previous greatest comeback in College history. The three were members of the 2009 women's volleyball team that rallied from two sets down and six match-points down in the fifth set of the NECC tournament championship, to defeat Newbury College, 3-2.