BABSON PARK, Mass. -- Senior captain Nicole Latini (East Bridgewater, Mass.) hit a grand slam to highlight a seven-run sixth inning as the second-seeded Babson College softball team defeated the sixth-seeded United States Coast Guard Academy, 14-10, in a wild back-and-forth affair on the opening day of the 2012 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament at Babson's Alumni Field.
With the victory, the Beavers gained some measure of vengeance against the team that has knocked them out of the league tournament in each of the last three seasons. Babson (24-16) will now take on host and top-seed Springfield College on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the winner's bracket of the six-team double-elimination tourney. Meanwhile, Coast Guard takes its first loss of the tournament and will face fourth-seeded WPI in an elimination game at Springfield on Saturday at noon.
The Bears jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, as sophomore Devin Fellman (New Port Richey, Fla.) led off with a double, took third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Maddie Buchert (Metaire, La.), and scored on a single over the head of the third baseman by first-year Jesse Richardson (Kent, Wash.). That lead held until the bottom of the second, when Babson sophomore Sam Pilkington (Westborough, Mass.) launched a deep fly to right that bounced off the top of the fence and carried over for her fifth home run of the season to even the contest at 1-1.
Coast Guard regained the advantage in the third, scoring twice after two were out. Richardson started the rally off with a single to left, junior Holli Bastinck (Wayne, N.J.) followed with a walk, and sophomore Kaitlin Ward (Saline, Mich.) and first-year Chloe Harmon (Escondido, Calif.) each recorded back-to-back RBI-singles to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
The Beavers answered in the home half of the third, beginning when junior Jackie Enos (Taunton, Mass.) reached on a two-base error with one out. Two batters later, junior captain Catie Funk (Scarborough, Maine) drew a two-out walk, setting up a double down the right field line by Latini that scored both runners and tied the contest at 3-3.
The Bears took the lead again in the fourth, when Fellman drew a two-out walk and scored all the way from first on a double to right-center by Buchert. Richardson then followed with a base hit to left, scoring Buchert to give Coast Guard a 5-3 advantage midway through the ballgame.
Errors cost the visitors the lead again in the bottom of the fourth, as the Bears' second miscue of the day led to four unearned runs against Feindel. After three straight singles by senior captain Jess Pashos (Winchester, Mass.), Funk, and Latini loaded the bases with one out, an error allowed Pashos to score Babson's fourth run of the day on a fielder's choice grounder by Pilkington. Junior Kelly King (Kennebunk, Maine) then drove in another run with an RBI-groundout to second, and junior Ashleigh Phelps (West Chester, Pa.) followed with a two-run single to left-center to give Babson its first lead of the day, 7-5.
Coast Guard surged ahead again in the sixth, as Fellman doubled and Buchert singled to put runners on the corners. Richardson then hit an infield single to plate Fellman, and, after the next two batters were retired, Harmon laced a two-run single to right, putting the Bears back in front, 8-7.
Babson finally put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth, erupting for seven runs on five hits and another Coast Guard error. First-year Lindsey Schmid (New Canaan, Conn.) got things started with a pinch-hit single to center, and, after a sacrifice bunt by senior Kayla Davis (Gardner, Mass.), Enos smacked an RBI-double to right-center to tie the game at 8-8. After Pashos reached on an error and funk drew a walk to load the bases, Latini capped off her incredible day at the plate with a grand slam to center - her fifth homer of the year - to give the Beavers a 12-8 lead. Two batters later, King singled up the middle and Phelps followed with her second home run of the spring to left, pushing the Babson lead to 14-8.
The Bears made one final push in the seventh, as Bastinck drilled a two-run single to center to score junior pinch-hitter Meghan Cook (Viginia Beach, Va.), who was hit by a pitch with one out, and Buchert, who had singled with two down. However, first-year pitcher Meghan Hayes (Robbinsville, N.J.) induced a game-ending comebacker to finally secure the 14-10 Babson win.
Sophomore Tess Rubega (Norwich, Conn.) started and went 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision for Babson, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks. Hayes (7-4) came on in the fourth and went the final 3 1/3 innings and earned the win, giving up six runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out a pair.
After tossing a complete-game victory against third-seeded Wellesley earlier in the day, Feindel (14-8) pitched far better than the final score showed for Coast Guard. The All-American righthander went all six innings, allowing 14 runs - only five of which were earned - on 11 hits, walked four and struck out eight.
Latini led Babson at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs, and six RBIs. Phelps finished the day 2-for-4 with a run and four driven in, while Enos, Pashos, and Pilkington each had a hit, two runs, and one RBI. Funk also had a strong game for the Beavers, going 1-for-1 with three walks and three runs scored.
Richardson went 4-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs to pace Coast Guard, while Buchert went 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored, and one knocked in. Fellman also scored three times in a 2-for-4 effort with two doubles, and Harmon went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Release courtesy of Babson College Sports Information