Softball Sweeps Franklin Pierce, Secures Berth in NE-10 Championships
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Entering the afternoon needing just one win to wrap up a postseason berth, the Merrimack College softball team did just that and more, as the Warriors swept a Northeast Division doubleheader against Franklin Pierce on Friday to clinch a spot in the 2014 Northeast-10 Conference Championships.
Score: Merrimack 7, Franklin Pierce 4 | Merrimack 6, Franklin Pierce 0
Records: Merrimack (20-19, 13-7 NE-10) | Franklin Pierce (12-20, 10-14 NE-10)
Location: Warrior Softball Diamond | North Andover, Mass.
NE-10 Playoff Outlook
(Top-four qualify in division; divisional records as of Friday shown)
- So. New Hampshire (14-6) Wins head-to-head vs. Saint Anselm
- Saint Anselm (14-6)
- Merrimack (13-7) Locked in as No. 3 seed, will host first-round game vs. Stonehill/Bentley
- Stonehill (11-9)
- Bentley (9-9)
- Assumption (9-10)
NE-10 Championships begin Tuesday (#3 hosts #4 in single-elimination play-in game)
- Winner advances to championship weekend (single-elimination throughout)
How It Happened
Game 1 – Merrimack 7, Franklin Pierce 4
Thanks to a four-run output in the bottom of the first, Merrimack set the tone early and withstood a late Franklin Pierce rally to take Game 1 of Friday's doubleheader, 7-4.
The Warriors used the long ball to their advantage, tallying four homers – including two blasts off the bat of senior Ashley Perry (Winchendon, Mass.), to hop out to a 4-0 lead after an inning of play starting with a three-run blast from senior Kelsey Francher (Weare, N.H.) in the bottom of the first.
Franklin Pierce cut the deficit in half (4-2) on a pair of one-run innings before Perry drilled her first homer to left field in the bottom of the fourth. An inning later, senior Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, Texas) left the yard with a solo blast to left field, but Franklin Pierce trimmed into its 6-2 deficit with a rally in the top of the sixth.
With two runners on and just one out, freshman Haley Currie (Burlington, Mass.) relieved sophomore starter Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt.) and got out of the jam despite allowing one run to cross on a fielder's choice. The rookie right-hander retired the next two batters to end the threat, and Ashley Perry added one last insurance run in the bottom half of the inning to account for the final margin of victory.
Alexis Perry picked up her team-leading 11th win after going 5 1/3 yielding two earned runs and fanning five, while Currie notched her fourth save in relief.
Game 2 – Merrimack 6, Franklin Pierce 0
After notching the save in Game 1, Currie went back to the mound to start Game 2 and tossed an absolute gem, recording her eighth complete game second shutout of her career after blanking Franklin Pierce in a 6-0 Warrior victory to secure the doubleheader sweep.
Merrimack's offense yet again was opportunistic in its very first at-bat, as Francher blasted her second such three-run homer of the afternoon following an RBI base hit from sophomore Brittany Razo (Anaheim, Calif.), giving the hosts a 5-0 lead after an inning.
With Currie dealing, Franklin Pierce had few answers, finishing with only six hits against the Warrior right-hander.
Meanwhile, Merrimack added another run in the bottom of the fourth off the bat of Razo, who scored senior Jessica Fugazzotto (Newton, Mass.) on a bloop single to center field to tally the final run for the Navy and Gold.
Currie would finish with seven strikeouts and only two walks allowed to improve to 9-8 on the year.
Inside The Numbers
- Merrimack's offense finished 18-for-52 (.346) over both games with Ashley Perry, Francher and Fugazzotto all finished with four hits
- Francher's seven RBI led both sides, while Razo 93) and Ashley Perry (2) drove in multiple runs, as well
- Currie fanned eight batters over 8 2/3 innings of both games, keeping Franklin Pierce to just a .212 batting average against in that span
- Merrimack finished 3-for-4 in stolen bases on the afternoon but committed six total errors defensively
Merrimack and Franklin Pierce round out the regular season tomorrow morning, as the two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. as part of Senior Day.