Martin Masterful as Softball Claims Second NEWMAC Championship in Four Years

2019 NEWMAC Champions
2019 NEWMAC Champions

WORCESTER – Named Most Outstanding Player, sophomore Katie Martin (Bedford, NH) pitched 13 innings and collected three victories, including a shutout, as WPI claimed its second NEWMAC tournament title in four years Saturday on Rooftop Field. After the Engineers walked off with a 3-2 victory in the first game of the day versus Wellesley they shutout MIT 2-0 to force the 'if necessary' game where the Crimson and Gray took the 5-4 triumph. Senior Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, NH) batted 3-for-3 with a double in the middle game while senior Caraline Wood (Averill Park, NY) was 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and a pair of runs scored in the finale.

With the title, WPI (32-9), who is sixth in the NCAA regional rankings, earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. No. 21 MIT (27-10-1), the third-ranked team in the region, anticipates an at-large berth. Both teams now wait for Monday's NCAA.com selection show set for 1pm.

WPI 5, MIT 4

Cambridge's Engineers took the initial lead in the winner-take-all Game 11 behind a sacrifice fly off the bat of junior Michelle Wist (Cypress, TX) in the top of the first. Wood leveled the game in the home portion of the inning with an RBI single through the left side. WPI then claimed the lead thanks to a two-out single to center by senior Kylie Juarez (Elk Grove, CA). MIT returned the favor with a two-out hit by sophomore Phoebe Li (Morganville, NJ) in the top of the second.

It remained a 2-2 ballgame until MIT freshman Olivia Lucchese (Camarillo, CA) drove in a run with a two-out knock to left center in the fourth. Another two-out hit, this time by Wist, gave the guests the 4-2 advantage in the fifth.

WPI, however, swung the scoreboard in its favor with three in the bottom of the inning as Wood (2 RBI) and LeClaire (RBI) used consecutive doubles to put the Crimson and Gray ahead 5-4 heading into the sixth.

Freshman Hailey McCasland (Wrentham, MA) was 2-for-3 and classmate Lindsay Ambrosino (Chelmsford, MA) was 2-for-4 with a double. Wood and LeClaire also doubled while sophomore Marissa Gonzales (Oakley, CA) contributed with a sacrifice bunt. Martin was relieved by junior Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, MA) who allowed only one hit in the final two innings.

Six different student-athletes from MIT had a hit, including doubles by Wist and junior Madi Pickett (Santa Barbara, CA). Junior Devon Goetz (Rockville, MD) stole a pair of bases while Wist, and freshmen Julia Chatterjee (Hinsdale, IL) and Anya Chase (Wells, ME), all recorded sacrifices. Senior Ravenne Nasser (Methuen, MA) took the first inning before handing the ball to sophomore Colleen Campbell (Snoqualmie, WA) for the balance of the contest.

WPI 2, MIT 0

MIT went down in order in the top of the first. Wood singled and LeClaire followed with an RBI double – all with two outs – as WPI claimed the early 1-0 lead. The guests looked for some two-out magic of their own in the top of the second; however, a pair of runners were left in scoring position following a swinging strikeout. WPI struck again, this time with a productive ground out by Juarez in the fourth.

LeClaire accounted for all but two of the Boynton Hiller hits to go with a sacrifice bunt by junior Cassie Graca (Somerset, MA). Martin gave up six hits and struck out four with zero walks in the complete-game for WPI.

Pickett batted 2-for-3 and Goetz added a double. Nasser allowed two runs on five hits and a walk, and struck out a pair, in the complete-game for MIT.

WPI 3, Wellesley 2

Sophomore Kaitlyn Hess (Milford, NH) delivered a pinch-hit walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh as top-seeded WPI remained in the hunt for the NEWMAC Softball Championship tournament title with a 3-2 victory over sixth-seeded Wellelsey.

Trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Graca began the frame with a triple to right center. Juarez followed with a single to the pitcher before swiping second. Freshman Gabriella Cerbo (Middletown, NJ) then chased the tying run home with a productive ground out. Following a pitching change, Hess stepped in and sent the game-ending single to right.

The game was scoreless until WPI's Wood and Juarez each sandwiched a pair of outs with a hit, and advanced to second on a miscue, in the bottom of the fourth. Up to that point, Wellesley left three on base and the Engineers two. Both sides also enjoyed a 1-2-3 inning.

The Blue and Engineers each went down in order again, this time in the fifth. Consecutive two-out doubles by Wellesley freshman Marisa Hensch (Carlsbad, CA) and sophomore Gen Brittingham (Aliso Viejo, CA) evened the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth. The Blue then took the lead on an RBI single to right by junior Kalei Oliver (Vista, CA). With runners on the corners, the frame came to a close with an infield grounder to third.

The bottom of the sixth could have been costly for the Engineers as a leadoff double was erased when the runner's hand came off the bag while trying to stretch it to a triple and confusion led to the third out when a runner retreated to first on what was thought to be a foul ball. The initial call was overturned but the runner was still out for not re-touching second on her way back to first.

Wood and Juarez were both 2-for-3 for WPI while Gonzales doubled and Graca tripled. LeClaire, McCasland and Graca chipped in with sacrifice hits. Phillips struck out three in six-plus innings while Martin fanned one in an inning of relief.

Oliver was 2-for-2 and Hensch (double) was 2-for-3 at the plate for Wellesley. Brittingham also doubled while sophomore Julianne Griffin (Blue Bell, PA) added a sacrifice hit. Freshman Hayley Moniz (Westfield, MA), meanwhile, struck out one and did not issue a walk in 6 1/3.

Wellesley concludes its season with a 13-17-2 ledger.