Posted: May 21, 2006
AMHERST, Mass. – Lehigh’s magical run through the NCAA Amherst regional came to an end on Sunday afternoon, as the upstart Mountain Hawks were beaten 3-0 by host UMass at the UMass Softball Complex. Brandice Balschmiter tossed a one-hit shutout for the Minutewomen, who defeat the Mountain Hawks for the second straight day and advance to next weekend’s super regionals. Lehigh’s record-setting season comes to an end at 43-14.
The Minutewomen raced to a 1-0 lead in the home half of the first as Amanda Morin led off the half inning with a solo homerun to right field off of Lehigh freshman Lisa Sweeney.
The Mountain Hawks then had a golden opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the top of the fourth inning, loading the bases with nobody out on a walk, a fielder’s choice and an error. Junior right fielder Julie Sterrett, who had an outstanding regional, lined a rocket at UMass third baseman Whitney Mollica, which Mollica snared and turned into a triple-play ending the Lehigh threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, Lesley Ferrara laced an RBI double to right centerfield, scoring UMass’ second run. The Minutewomen plated their final run in the fifth as catcher KJ Kelley drove a bases-loaded single through the right side.
Balschmiter held Lehigh without a hit through five innings, before Lehigh sophomore Megan Conrad singled with one out in the sixth inning. The Mountain Hawks tried to capitalize on three UMass errors, but were unable to solve Balschmiter, who improves to 31-7 on the season.
“My congratulations go out to UMass for hosting and playing an outstanding tournament,” said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. “They (UMass) played hard, they deserved to win and they will represent northeast softball well in the super regionals.”
Sweeney went the first four and a third innings in the circle, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out five. With the loss, Sweeney wraps up a sensational freshman season at 26-6. Her 26 wins and 228 strikeouts are both school and Patriot League records.
The Mountain Hawks 43 victories are a school and Patriot League record and along the way Lehigh became the first Patriot League team to win a first round NCAA regional game, and the first to win two games in one NCAA regional.