Francher, Softball Rallies to Top #3 Bentley; Warriors Advance to NE-10 Quarterfinals
Links: Box Score
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Tied up at two runs apiece, senior Kelsey Francher (Weare, N.H.) smashed the game-deciding two-RBI double to the gap in right center, completing the Merrimack College softball team's 5-2, come-from-behind victory in the opening round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Tuesday afternoon at the Warrior Softball Diamond.
Score: #3 Merrimack 5, #4 Bentley 2
Records: Merrimack (21-19) | Bentley (20-18)
Location: Warrior Softball Diamond | North Andover, Mass.
How It Happened
Trailing by two runs after three innings in a winner-take-all, loser-goes-home showdown, Merrimack drew even with two runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to the efforts of senior Jaclyn Giovannini (Plano, Texas) before both sides posted a scoreless fifth, setting the state for Francher's heroics in the sixth.
After sophomore Brittany Razo (Anaheim, Calif.) led off the inning with a single to left and Giovannini followed suit with a double into the gap in left center, Francher came to the plate with the score tied at 2-2, nobody out and two runners in scoring position.
The senior outfielder and recently named all-conference third team honoree promptly took a 2-0 count and drove it into the gap in right center, plating a pair to put the Warriors ahead for good. Later in the inning, junior Lindsay Gibbs (Acton, Mass.) would drive in Francher to add an insurance run that proved to be unnecessary, as sophomore Alexis Perry (Westford, Vt.) shut the door in the seventh to send the Warriors to their first playoff win since their appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals in 2011.
Bentley scored the game's first two runs on an RBI double in the top of the first and a sacrifice fly in the top of the second, but Merrimack would rally back to finish the season 10-1 on its home turf. The Warriors will face the No. 2 Southwest Seed Adelphi in the single-elimination NE-10 Quarterfinals on Thursday.
2014 Northeast-10 Championship Schedule
Tuesday, April 29 - First Round
Game 1: #3 NE Merrimack 5, #4 NE Bentley 2
Game 2: #4 SW Le Moyne at #3 SW Pace - 3:00 p.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND | Hosted by New Haven
Thursday, May 1 - Second Round
Game 3: #2 SW Adelphi vs. #3 NE Merrimack - 1:00 p.m.
Game 4: #2 NE Saint Anselm vs. Le Moyne/Pace - 3:30 p.m.
Friday, May 2 - Semifinals
Game 5: #1 NE Southern New Hampshire vs. Winner of Game 3 - 1:00 p.m.
Game 6: #1 SW New Haven vs. Winner of Game 4 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 3 - Final
Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6 - 1:00 p.m
**SINGLE-ELIMINATION FORMAT THROUGHOUT **
Inside The Numbers
- Merrimack finished 9-for-27 (.333) at the plate, outslugging the Falcons by a 9-6 margin
- Giovannini's two hits led the Warriors, while she and Francher tied for the team lead in RBI with two apiece
- Perry improved to 12-6 on the year thanks to her complete game gem; the sophomore righty yielded one earned run on six hits and fanned two with only two walks
- Senior Allison Berthiaume (Berkley, Mass.) had the only stolen base of the game
- Bentley stranded eight base runners compared to Merrimack's four
- Merrimack committed two errors, while the Falcons finished with one miscue
The Warriors will next take on the No. 2 seed from the Southwest Division and reigning league champion Adelphi on Thursday at 1 p.m., as the tournament's championship weekend continues at the University of New Haven on May 1.