WORCESTER, Mass.- The Merrimack softball team claimed a 4-1 victory over Adelphi in its opening game and held off Southern Connecticut 6-4 in its second contest of the Northeast-10 Tournament Friday afternoon on the campus of Assumption College.
The third-seeded Warriors improved to 27-18 on the year and advance to face No. 4 New Haven Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The Panthers fall to 28-24 on the year and move into the losers' bracket and will play No. 1 Assumption Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in an elimination game. The Owls move to 27-19 overall and will face No. 5 UMass Lowell Saturday morning at 11 a.m. in an elimination game.
Kara Melillo (North Andover, Mass.) and Monique Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.) paced Merrimack's offense with three hits on the day. Jamie Millett (Hudson, Mass.), Alex Gallant (Salem, N.H.), Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, Mass.) and Kristen LeMay (Shrewsbury, Mass.) all finished day one with two base knocks.
In game one, Melillo led the way with two hits in the game to go along with one run and one RBI. Perry drove in a pair of runs while Gosselin also plated a run.
Adelphi got on the board in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Emily Dorko led off the game with a bunt single then stole second. Following a sacrifice bunt by Amy Ogden to advance Dorko to third, Shay Craig drove in the contest's first run.
Merrimack grabbed a 2-1 edge in the home half of the inning. LeMay singled through the left side to start the Warriors' offense. Millett and Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) both reached base to load the bags. Gosselin got hit by a pitch to drive in the tying run. Melillo singled up the middle to grant Merrimack its first lead of the game.
In the third, the Warriors added a pair of runs to increase the gap to three runs, 4-1. Palmieri reached on an error to lead off the inning. After a one-out walk issued to Melillo, Perry laced a single into centerfield to plate two runs.
Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.) tossed her 18th complete game of the year, allowing one run on four hits while striking out five batters.
"Our base-running was the key to today's win in game one. After a shaky start in the first inning, we settled down and that is when we play our best," said head coach Elaine Schwager.
In the Warriors' second game of the day, Gosselin's 3-for-3 effort from the plate with four runs batted in led the team. Millett drove in a run and scored twice while also picking up a base hit.
Merrimack sprung out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. LeMay led off the game with a single then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Millett and Palmieri drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Gosselin plated all three with a triple to right center.
After walking to lead off the fifth, Millett moved to second on a ground out and to third on a wild pitch. Gosselin drove in her fourth RBI of the game with a double to extend the lead to 4-0.
Southern Connecticut got on the board in the bottom of the fifth as Jessica Rosa opened the frame with a solo homer to cut the Warriors' advantage to 4-1.
In the sixth, Merrimack took a 6-1 edge as Millett raked a two-run double down the left field line to score Nicole LoPilato (Medford, Mass.) and Gallant.
The Owls started to crawl back into the game in the bottom of the seventh. Alyssa Pagano launched a one-out home run down the left field line. With two outs in the inning, three-consecutive singles plated Southern Connecticut's third run of the contest. A bases-loaded walk issued to Rosa pushed across the Owls' fourth run. Deardorff got the next batter to fly out to left field to end the game.
Deardorff hurled her second complete game in the tournament to improve to 19-12 on the year. The 2011 Northeast-10 Conference pitcher of the year allowed eight hits and four earned runs while registering four strikeouts in the win.
"Our team came up with some huge hits and some awesome at-bats to put us in good position to score runs. I was glad to see the team show a high level of intensity right out of the gate after we started out slow earlier in the day," said Schwager.