Williamstown, MA --- WPI's Nina Murphy-Cook (Roseville, CA) went a perfect 3-3, scored both runs, and stole a base while starting pitcher Clare Doolin (Newton, MA) tossed a complete game shutout in leading the Engineers past the Western New England Golden Bears 2-0 in the NCAA Division III Softball regional this afternoon held on the campus of Williams College.
The Engineers, playing in the program's first-ever NCAA contest, improve to 32-9 and will play Williams, a 10-0 winner over MCLA, Saturday at 11:00am. WNE drops to 29-8 and will play in an elimination game tomorrow at 1:30 against MCLA.
Both teams had scoring chances in the opening frame as Western New England's Sam Mulhern (Worcester, MA) singled with one out and stole second, however was stranded as WPI's Doolin induced a pop-out and a groundout to escape.
WPI's Murphy-Cook singled to lead off the bottom half of the first and quickly stole second, her 52nd swipe of the season. A fly out to right advanced her to third; however she was stranded as WNE's Lauren Zambrano (Wallingford, CT) recorded a strikeout and infield fly to get out of the jam.
RiAnna May (Westminster, CO) walked to begin second and following a pair of outs, advanced to second on a wild pitch. Following a walk to Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, MA), Jacquelyne DiTroia (Andover, MA) then singled to center, however interference was called on May which negated a run and ended the inning.
WPI finally broke through in the bottom of the third with Murphy-Cook again being the catalyst. She reached on a perfect bunt to begin the frame and then went all the way to third on Ama Biney's (Worcester, MA) sacrifice bringing Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, RI) to the plate. Gallagher drilled a single to the right center gap scoring Murphy-Cook with the game's first run. Katie Bumila (Raynham, MA) followed with a bloop single to center field moving Gallagher to second, however WNE's Zambrano bore down and got a strikeout and groundout to avoid further damage.
WPI tallied again in the fifth as Murphy-Cook led off with her third single of the day and advanced to second on a miscue from the left fielder. She promptly scored on Biney's bouncer up the middle for a 2-0 advantage.
WNE led off the top of the sixth with an Avery Clark bloop single and she advanced into scoring position without an out on a wild pitch. WPI's Doolin produced a fly out to May in right field for the first out and then a line out to left for the second. Doolin then recorded a punch out to end the threat preserving the 2-0 lead for the Engineers.
The Golden Bears produced a one out single in the seventh; however a pair of fly outs ended the game sending the Engineers into the winner's bracket game.
WPI outhit the Golden Bears 6-4 on the afternoon with Murphy-Cook the only player with multiple hits. The Crimson and Gray did not make an error on the day with Gallagher making a diving stop at third to end the fourth inning and May tallying the running catch in right to get the first out of the sixth with a runner already on second base.
Zambrano went the distance in defeat tossing all six innings and allowing only one earned run with four strikeouts.
Doolin yielded just the four hits and struck out four as well.
Release Courtesy Jeff Puleri - MCLA
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