NEW LONDON, Conn.-Sophomore Jessie Richardson had seven hits on the day as the Coast Guard softball team cruised to an 8-0, five inning victory in game one before falling 15-11 in game two of a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference doubleheader against Wheaton. Coast Guard (19-14, 7-9 NEWMAC) came into the game knowing a sweep would assure their place in the tournament field next weekend while Wheaton (22-14, 10-4 NEWMAC) knew they would be in and were playing for seeding.
Game One: Coast Guard 8, Wheaton 0
Freshman Kristine Kahl (12-7) worked a complete-game shutout in the opener yielding just four hits while striking out two and not allowing a walk. Richardson recorded three hits, stole a base, and scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch to senior Holli Bastinck in the fifth to enact the eight run rule in the 8-0 Coast Guard victory.
The Bears jumped on the Lyons out of the gate, scoring three unearned runs in the top of the first after freshman Morgan Kingston reached on an error with two outs. Bastinck, the next batter up, chased her home with an RBI double to center field. Bastinck would come around to score a batter later when junior Kaitlin Ward reached on a three-base error before coming home on a single by senior Stacia Sarwinski.
Coast Guard would add another run in the second when Kingston's ground ball went through the legs of Wheaton's junior shortstop Jenna Rocha to plate senior Summer Dupler.
Kahl would escape trouble in the top of the third after freshman third baseman Hannah Ingerson's misplayed grounder put runners at the corners with two outs. However, Kahl would get senior Megan Roy to ground out ot end the threat.
Coast Guard would add another run in the fourth when Dupler would come in to score when sophomore Erin Lisko reached on an error by Rocha.
After the Bears got two runners on with just one out, Richardson delivered a base knock to right to score Ingerson to make the score 6-0 in favor of the hosts. Two batters later Kingston reached on a bases loaded fielder's choice to push the margin to 7-0. Then, with a 1-1 count on Bastinck, freshman reliever Jillian Rocha uncorked a wild pitch that scored Richardson from third to end the ballgame.
Sophomore Noelle Christmas took the loss in the circle for Wheaton, dropping to 7-5 on the year. She worked just an inning and two thirds before leaving with an apparent hand injury following a line drive back to the box by Lisko.
Game Two: Wheaton 15, Coast Guard 11
The nightcap saw 26 runs and 41 hits between the two clubs as Wheaton won a slugfest, 15-11, to earn a split on the day. Neither starter made it past the third inning nor factored in the decision in this one as Coast Guard built an 11-9 lead headed into the top of the fourth.
Wheaton got things rolling right off the bat, scoring two in the opening inning as freshmen Kelly Welch and Marissa Timoteo rapped back-to-back RBI singles off Kahl.
Not to be outdone, the Bears came roaring back with a five runs in the bottom half of the inning. After singles by Kingston and Ward tied the game at two it looked like Wheaton might escape further damage by getting senior Stacia Sarwinski to strike out for out number two. It was not to be though as junior Kelly Grills blooped a singled into shallow left to score Bastinck. Ingerson, the next batter up, then smoked a line drive single into right to score two more as Ward and Grills came in on the play.
The Lyons charged back with a five spot of their own in the second, scoring all their runs before a single out was recorded. Consecutive RBI singles by Rocha and Welch tied the game up at 5-5 before Timoteo hit a towering double off the right field fence to score a pair of Wheaton runs, giving the visitors a 7-5 lead.
The Wheaton lead was to be short-lived as Coast Guard threw up another crooked number on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second with six runs of their own. After scoring one earlier in the inning on a Kingston single, Ward blasted a three-run homer over the center field fence to give the Bears a 9-7 advantage. Coast Guard would score two more runs on an opposite field single by Richardson, her sixth hit of the day, to chase home Sarwinski and Grills.
Wheaton cut the deficit to 11-9 in the top of the third as back-to-back one-out singles by Rocha and Welch scored senior Alanna Monahan and freshman Erin Deneen.
The Lyons would chip away further in the fourth off Coast Guard reliever, freshman Sammy Yuknat. Two batters after a lead-off walk to junior Ashley Vertente, Deneen laced a single into shallow right to score the 10th Wheaton run of the game and cut the Bears' lead to one at 11-10.
No more scoring would occur until the seventh when the Wheaton lineup wreaked havoc on the Coast Guard defense. Despite allowing a leadoff walk, it looked like Yuknat would get out of the inning unscathed after getting the next two batters to fly out and sac bunt, respectively. But with a runner on second and two outs, Monahan hit a line drive at Sarwinski in right but she misjudged it and Christmas, pinch-running for Roy, would come in to score as Monahan wound up on second. It was déjà vu a batter later as an almost identical ball, hit by Deneen, found its way out to Sarwinski in right and over her head to bring home Monahan for a 12-11 Wheaton lead, their first since the second inning.
The biggest blow came two batters later when Rocha hammered a first pitch over the wall in right to drive in three and give Wheaton a 15-11 lead and some much-needed insurance.
Coast Guard tried to mount a comeback in the bottom half with a two-out rally of their own. Richardson got things going with a single back up the middle and Lisko followed with a base hit to right. That would bring up Kingston, who was 4-for-4 in the game coming into that at-bat, but her ground ball found its way into sophomore pitcher Emily Berardi's glove, who fired over to first for the final out.
Berardi picked up the win for the Lyons, throwing 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and scattering seven hits to improve to 2-4 on the season. Yuknat suffered the loss for the Bears as she went four innings out of the 'pen allowing six (earned) runs on 11 hits.
The Bears wrap up regular season play on Thursday, April 25th as they host a non-conference doubleheader against Eastern Connecticut at 3:00.
Post-Game comments by head coach Donna Koczajowski