Posted: May 17, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. – After keeping its season alive with a 7-4 win over Princeton, Lehigh saw its season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to UMass Saturday at the NCAA Regional at the UMass Softball Complex. Junior Lisa Sweeney went 2-for-3 with three RBI and picked up the win in the circle to keep the Mountain Hawks alive against Princeton, but against the host UMass, the Minutewomen built a 3-0 lead and staved off a seventh inning Lehigh rally. The Mountain Hawks’ season comes to an end at 39-17-1.
Playing its third game of the day UMass, the designated visiting team, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Whitney Mollica led off with a single and then Lauren Maroney delivered a two-out RBI single to right field to drive in pinch runner Davina Hernandez.
Sophomore Tiffany Curtis received the start in the circle against the Minutewomen and pitched well in her first appearance in three weeks, allowing just three runs on six hits while striking out six and walking six.
UMass (41-12) tacked on two key insurance runs in the sixth on a two run home run to left by Sarah Reeves.
The Mountain Hawks mustered just one hit through the first five innings off of UMass ace Brandice Balschmiter, but after Balschmiter left the game with an injury in the sixth, Lehigh put together a late rally against Bailey Sanders in the seventh. Sweeney and junior Whitney Lowe opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Senior Megan Conrad moved runners to second and third with a ground ball, before sophomore Brooke Lewis walked to load the bases and put the tying run on base. Junior Alisha Gonzales put Lehigh on the scoreboard with an RBI groundout, but Sanders was able to record the final out as she struck out pinch-hitter Sam Miller looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Balschmiter earned her 30th win of the season, allowing just one hit in five and a third innings of work. Curtis took the loss for Lehigh and wraps up her sophomore campaign at 12-10.
The Minutewomen out hit Lehigh 6-3 and will move on to the championship round against Stanford on Sunday, needing to beat the Cardinal twice to reach the Super Regionals.
Earlier Saturday, Lehigh recorded school records for runs (seven) and hits (eleven) in defeating Princeton for the second time this season and eliminating the Tigers from the tournament.
Princeton scored first on a two-run homer by Kelsey Quist in the bottom of the first inning, but Lehigh battled back to take the lead with five runs off Tiger starter Jamie Lettire in the top of the third. With a runner on first and one out, back-to-back doubles from freshman Alex Cueva and Sweeney tied the game at two, then two batters later Lowe singled to centerfield to score Sweeney with the go-ahead run. Lewis then followed with a two-run homer, her first career home run, to left to cap the five run frame.
After the Tigers got a run back on an Erin Miller home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Lehigh scored again its next time up when Sweeney drew a bases loaded walk. Princeton picked up another run in the fifth to cut Lehigh’s lead to 6-4, but Sweeney capped a 2-for-3, three RBI day with a single to right field that scored senior Kate Marvel.
Sweeney tied her own school and Patriot League record with her 26th win of the season allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings. Despite just two strikeouts, Sweeney earned the win and finishes the season at 26-5 with 304 strikeouts.
Kathryn Welch was 4-for-4 for the Tigers, but was thrown out by Lowe trying to stretch a double into a triple to end the game.
Marvel led the way against Princeton, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Cueva, Sweeney and Lewis each picked up two hits against Princeton.
Photos © 2008, Mark Covelle