SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Springfield scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth with five hits and a pair of Coast Guard errors as the top-seeded Pride posted a come-from-behind 6-2 win over sixth-seeded Coast Guard in the winners bracket final of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament.
Coast Guard (22-16) will now play in the losers brackets final on Sunday at noon against an opponent to be determined. The winner of that game will have to beat Springfield twice to win the championship. The Bears are the three-time defending NEWMAC tournament champions.
Freshman Kristine Kahl was once again outstanding on the mound for the Bears. She didn't allow a hit until senior Kelly Blake led off the fourth with a homer to left to break the scoreless tie.
Coast Guard senior Stacia Sarwinski's towering homerun to left in the fourth tied the game 1-1.
The Bears took the lead in the top of the fifth as freshman Hannah Ingerson led off with a double that was lost in the sun in center field and scored on an RBI double by sophomore Jessie Richardson. Coast Guard had runners on first and third with just one out in both the second and fifth innings but could not score.
Springfield loaded the bases in the sixth as Blake doubled, junior Christina Leader had an infield single and freshman Melissa Nolan reached on a bunt single.
Freshman Jenna Webb's fly ball to center was dropped and then overthrown as two runs scored giving the Pride a 3-2 lead. Senior Breann Joyce then delivered a two-run double and later scored on a double by sophomore Brittney Lally to push the lead to 6-2.
Coast Guard had nine hits, including four doubles and the homer, but could only score the two runs.
Richardson had a pair of doubles, Sarwinski had two hits and sophomore Erin Lisko had a pair of singles for Coast Guard.
"We played championship softball for five innings, but we have to finish," said Coast Guard head coach Donna Koczajowski. "We proved that we belong here, we just missed some scoring opportunities and in tournament play, you have to take advantage of those opportunities when you have them. Kristine again proved that she is a legitimate pitcher in the NEWMAC and gave us a tremendous effort, but our defense let her down."
Kahl (15-7) allowed just two hits over the first five innings and allowed seven hits and one earned run while striking out five in taking the loss.