Softball Suffers Two Losses in NE-10 Tourney Final Series

WORCESTER, Mass.- The Merrimack softball team dropped the final two games of the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Tournament to Southern Connecticut State Sunday afternoon. The Warriors fell 5-3 and 9-2 to drop to 28-20 on the season. The Owls won four games on the final day of the tournament to claim the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Tournament title and improve to 32-19 overall.

Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.) and Monique Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.) were both selected to the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Tournament All-Championship team. Gosselin finished the weekend with six hits and 11 runs batted in. Deardorff pitched a total of 29.2 innings in the five games with 19 strikeouts.

Kristen LeMay (Shrewsbury, Mass.) paced Merrimack with four hits on the day with three runs scored. Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) and Kara Melillo (North Andover, Mass.) each finished with two base knocks in the afternoon.

LeMay led off the bottom of the first with a single and advanced to second on a bunt single by Palmieri. Melillo drove in LeMay from second with a double through the left side of the infield to give the Warriors a 1-0 edge.

In the third, LeMay opened the frame with a double to right field. Jamie Millett (Hudson, Mass.) followed with a single to left to give Merrimack runners on the corners with no outs. A throwing error as Millett stole second allowed LeMay to race home, increasing the Warriors' lead to 2-0.

Jessica Rosa homered to lead off the fifth to cut Southern Connecticut's deficit to one, 2-1.

After a double to start the sixth by the Owls' Shawna Mallory, Merrimack retired the next two batters. Following a single by Krisitn Whitley, Alyssa Downs doubled to drive in two runs and give Southern Connecticut a one-run lead, 3-2. Rosa came up next and blasted her second home run of the game to raise the Owls' advantage to three, 5-2.

Keaira Monet Perry (Bellingham, Mass.) doubled to lead off the bottom of the seventh and moved to third on a groundout by Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, Texas). Perry was awarded home plate on an illegal pitch to pull Merrimack to within two of Southern Connecticut, 5-3.

Deardorff pitched a complete game with five strikeouts while allowing eight hits.

In the decisive game of the tournament, the two teams made quick work of the first two innings as neither team was able to plate a run.

The Owls struck first in game two with three runs in the third inning. Downs tripled to right center to drive in a pair of runs, giving Southern Connecticut a 2-0 lead. Downs scored the Owls' third run of the frame on a wild pitch.

Southern Connecticut added a run in the fourth as Mallory homered to left field.

A five-run fifth frame pushed the Owls' advantage to nine runs as they owned a 9-0 lead. Downs led off the inning with a double and scored on a throwing error as Stacy Pouliot reached base. With the bases loaded, the Warriors recorded an out with a pop out. As the runner on third strayed from the bag, the throwing attempt to pick up the second out of the inning sailed high to allow the runner to score.

Jillian Thibault doubled to centerfield to plate two runs, giving the Owls an 8-0 edge. Robin Priest followed with an RBI single to right, increasing the gap to nine runs.

In the bottom of the fifth, Merrimack put the first two runners of the inning on base. Palmieri sent a hard groundball zipping beneath the shortstop's glove and into centerfield to drive in Perry for the Warriors' first run of the game. Gosselin flied out to deep right field to allow LeMay to tag up and score from third.

Alie Thomas (Bedford, N.H.) tossed the first 2.1 innings for Merrimack, striking out one while surrendering two hits. Deardorff worked the final 3.2 innings and registered three strikeouts while giving up four base knocks.

The Warriors now await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show to learn if they receive an at-large bid to the tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is scheduled to air May 9 at 10 a.m. on the NCAA website.