Worcester, MA – WPI softball went charging into first place in the NEWMAC standings with a doubleheader win over Wellesley on Saturday afternoon at Rooftop Field as the Engineers have now won eight consecutive games.
Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, NH) drove in a pair of runs in both games for a team-high four RBIs to lead the offense as WPI topped the Blue 10-2 in the six-inning opener and then 8-2 in the nightcap. The Engineers had four-run fourth innings in both games to pull away from Wellesley.
WPI improves to 20-10 overall and 11-3 in the NEWMAC. The Engineers' sweep of the previously first-place Blue (15-6), coupled with splits between Wheaton and MIT and Springfield and Babson, puts the Crimson and Gray in sole possession of first place in the conference, a game ahead of the Lyons, Engineers, Blue and Pride (all 10-4) and two above the Beavers (9-5) with just two league doubleheaders remaining.
LeClaire went 3-for-4 in the first game, including a single in the first inning to bring Cassie Graca (Somerset, MA) around from second and put WPI up 1-0.
The hosts made it a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning as senior captain Lindsay Gurska (Revere, MA) doubled to right center with two outs and then scored on a base hit by classmate Hope Shevchuk (Burlington, CT).
Caroline Medino (Pompton Lakes, NJ) tossed two scoreless innings before giving way to freshman Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, MA), who went the final four frames, striking out five and giving up two runs to improve to 7-4 on the season.
Kylie Juarez (Elk Grove, CA) singled in LeClaire to up the lead to 3-0 in the third inning before the Engineers rallied for four more runs in the fourth inning.
Katie Chagami (Waipahu, HI) came around to score after an error on a sacrifice bunt by Gurska (2-for-3) to start off the fourth inning scoring. Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) then made it 6-0 with a two-run ground double to left field that brought around Shevchuk (2-for-2) and Gurska. LeClaire drove in the final run of the inning with an RBI ground out that allowed Biney to race home from third.
Wellesley's Julia Warner (Kenmore, WA) sent a two-run home run over the wall in left center to pull it back to a 7-2 margin in the fifth inning, but Chagami (3-for-4, 3 RBI) got both runs back in the bottom half of the inning as she smacked a two-run homer of her own to stretch it back to a 9-2 Engineers advantage.
Chagami also drive in the final run to wrap up the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth as she plated RiAnna May (Westminster, CO).
Biney (3-for-4, 2 SB) came in to score on a ground out by LeClaire in the first inning of the early afternoon nightcap to send WPI ahead, 1-0.
The Engineers loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning, but could only bring one run across as Graca reached on an infield single and Chagami came in from third to send the hosts to a 2-0 lead.
That Blue rallied to tie the game at 2-2 in the third inning, as Kendra Coleman (Scottsdale, AZ) doubled in Warner, and then Amanda Manning (Chico, CA) tagged up to score on a sacrifice fly by Ashtyn Coleman (Scottsdale, AZ).
Again, WPI responded by matching Wellesley's scoring in the bottom half of the inning, getting a well-placed two-run double down the left field line from Gurska to drive in May (2-for-4) and Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, RI) to go back ahead, 4-2.
The Boynton Hillers scored their final four runs in the fourth inning.
Biney got things started by stealing third and then coming home on a throwing error. LeClaire and May both followed with RBI doubles, and then May came in to score on a wild pitch to give WPI an 8-2 lead.
Phillips tossed another three innings in the second game to up her total to seven on the day, allowing two earned runs on four Wellesley hits.
Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, MA) hurled the final four innings, striking out three and holding the Blue scoreless to pocket her ninth win of the season.
WPI racked up a total of 29 hits on the day.
The Engineers have doubleheaders at Westfield State on Tuesday and then at home against Becker on Wednesday before finishing out their NEWMAC schedule with doubleheaders against MIT and Babson Friday and Saturday. Wellesley hosts Brandeis Wednesday before heading to Springfield Friday and entertaining MIT Saturday.