CASTLETON, Vt. --- Thomas College erupted for 15 runs in the second inning en route to a 16-2, five-inning win over New England College Friday afternoon at the 2016 North Atlantic Conference Softball Championship Tournament at Spartan Field.
The No. 2-seeded Terriers (17-17) move into the 4 p.m. winner's bracket game against top-seed and host Castleton (18-11). The Pilgrims (21-20), seeded third, played fourth-seeded Husson (14-24) in a consolation game at 2 p.m.
Thomas 16, New England 2 (5 innings)
The Terriers jumped on NEC starting pitcher Gabriella Marcheschi early in the first inning as Sonja Morse (jr., South China, Maine / Cony) and Courtney Veilleux (jr., Oakland, Maine / Messalonskee) hit back-to-back one-out singles and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. The threat was neutralized as Korrie Laren (jr., Blackstone, Mass. / Blackstone-Millville) popped out and Jordanna Agger (South Portland, Maine / Wells) struck out to end the frame.
New England College grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the second as Jamie Ray and Joslyn Gallagher scored on a Brittney Distante sacrifice bunt when the return throw home from first base sailed high out of the reach of Thomas catcher Lindsy Hoopingarner (sr., Richmond, Maine / Richmond).
Hoopingarner led off the bottom half of the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Molly Carroll (fr., Southwest Harbor, Maine / Mount Desert Island). Beginning with a Katie Taylor (fr., Lebanon, Maine / Noble) RBI single that scored Hoopingarner, the next 11 Terriers reached base safely. Madison Bentz (jr., Ottawa, Ill. / Ottawa Township) followed with an infield single and Lexi Colpack (fr., Franklin, N.H. / Franklin) an RBI single before Morse and Veilleux pushed the lead to 5-2 with back-to-back RBI doubles.
Laren then smacked a two-run home run to left to make it 7-2. After a walk to Agger, Hoopingarner rapped her second single of the inning, brining an early end to Marcheschi's day in the circle.
The Terrier scoring rally continued against NEC reliever Debra Mazzeo as Carroll loaded the bases with a single to center, Taylor hit another RBI single down the right-field line and Bentz cleared the bases with a three-run double to left before Colpack grounded out to second base for the second out of the inning.
After Morse drew a walk to put runners on the corners, Veilleux reached on an error to score Bentz. Laren followed with a two-RBI double and scored on a Cassie Contigiani (fr., Belmont, N.H. / Belmont) double to left center. The run finally came to a close when Mazzeo struck out Hoopingarner for the third out of the inning.
Thomas added a run in the fourth inning as Taylor Johnson (Oxford, Maine / Oxford Hills) doubled down the right-field line and scored on a Laren single through the left side.
Morse sat the Pilgrims down in order in both the third and fourth innings before being relieved by Faith Robinson (sr., Auburn, N.H. / Pinkerton Academy) in the fifth. Robinson retired NEC in order in the frame, striking out one.
Morse (15-6) allowed just two hits and did not issue a walk while striking out five.
Thomas finished with 17 hits, including three from Laren, who drove in five while falling just a triple short of the cycle. Morse, Veilleux, Hoopingarner, Taylor and Bentz each had a pair of hits.
Gallagher and Ray accounted for NEC's two hits, while Distante was credited with an RBI on her sacrifice bunt.
Marcheschi took the loss for NEC, allowing nine runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out one in 1 1/3 innings. Mazzeo gave up seven runs (three earned) on seven hits and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings of relief.