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SOFTBALL: JWU Remains Unbeaten, Suffolk and Emmanuel on Brink in GNAC Tournament Entering Sunday


#7 Emmanuel 6, #3 Simmons 0 (Fourth Game Played Saturday)

EAST BOSTON, Mass. – The number seven seed Emmanuel College softball team took advantage of three errors and scored four unearned runs, en-route to a 6-3 victory over number three seed Simmons College in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals this evening at Memorial Park in East Boston, Mass. The Saints have won 13 of their last 15 games and improve to 25-17 on the season and will face top-seeded Suffolk University tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in an elimination game at Memorial Park. The winner will face undefeated number two seed Johnson & Wales University at 12:30 p.m. The Sharks finish their season at 22-19 for their highest win total since 2014.

First year second base Meaghan Price (Corning, N.Y.) and junior catcher Casey Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) each went 1-3 with two runs batted in for Emmanuel, while sophomore right fielder Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda (South Boston, Mass.) was 1-3 with a home run.

First year first base Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) went 1-2 with a double, a run batted in and a walk to lead Simmons, while sophomore center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) and sophomore Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) each went 1-3 with a run scored.

The Saints manufactured a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead. Junior starting pitcher Olivia Burgos (Newington, Conn.) singled to left and sophomore center fielder Sarah Hoisl (West Hartford, Conn.) was hit by a two-strike pitch with both advancing into scoring position on a passed ball. Sheehan hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Burgos and Hoisl later scored during a deliberate run down play between first and second to make it 2-0.

Emmanuel added two more runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead with the benefit of an error and a passed ball. Sheehan stroked a one-out single up the middle and junior first base Ashley Skey (Brookline, N.H.) followed with a walk. The next two Saints struck out, but the third strike on the would-be third out was not handled, allowing junior shortstop Audrey Esakoff (Ventura, Calif.) to reach and load the bases. Price took advantage of Emmanuel's new life and roped a single to left field to plate Sheehan and Skey for a 4-0 margin. 

The Sharks answered with three runs in the top of the fourth to make it a one-run game. Hennessey rapped a leadoff single up the middle and sophomore third base Dom Ortiz (Lawrence, Mass.) reached when she was hit by a pitch. Soqui followed with a single to left that got by the left fielder and resulted in Hennessey and first year pinch-runner Danielle Carson (Ashland, Mass.) scoring to cut the deficit to 4-2. Yabroudy followed with a double to bring home Soqui and pull Simmons to within a run. First year Mikaela Montemagni (Chicopee, Mass.) came on to pitch for the Saints and promptly retired the final three hitters on fly outs for the first of four hitless innings to close out the game.

Emmanuel got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth, including a 250-foot home run blasted over the center field fence off the bat of Ramirez-Tejada to open the frame. The Saints scored the final run of the night when Hoisl reached on an error, advanced to second on the throw, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a Sheehan ground out to give them a 6-3 advantage.

The Sharks were unable to put a rally together in the final three innings as Emmanuel came away with the victory.

Montemagni earned the win to improve to 4-2 after hurling four shutout innings, while fanning five and issuing one walk. Soqui (3-8) suffered the loss for Simmons, allowing five runs (two earned) on six hits and two bases on balls to go with three strikeouts. Senior righty Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) closed out her career by throwing the final three innings for the Sharks, yielding one unearned run on a hit, while setting two batters down on strikes. She concluded the season with 14 wins and 27 appearances to finish one short of tying the school record in both categories.

Courtesy of SIMMONS Athletics Communications.

#2 JWU 6, #1 Suffolk 0 (Third Game Played Saturday)
EAST BOSTON, Mass. – For the fourth year in a row, the Johnson & Wales University softball team has worked its way into the GNAC Championship game. The Wildcats posted their second shutout in a row, 6-0, over the top seed Suffolk on Saturday.

Suffolk: 30-8
Johnson & Wales: 30-11

Statistical Leaders:
Jennifer Corona: 1-4, 4 RBI, 1 R ; 7 IP, 7 K, 0 R
Meghan Gavin: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
Kayla McKinnon: 2-4, 1 R

Of Note:
JWU senior Jennifer Corona continued her strong performance both in the circle and at the plate. She ran her GNAC Tournament scoreless streak to 16 innings by throwing a three-hit shutout. Corona struck out six batters and only issued two walks.

She also supplied all the offense JWU would need. Meghan Gavin and Kristin Frost picked up one-out singles in the first inning then Katie Rufo drew a walk to load the bases. Corona blasted her sixth home run of the year to put the Wildcats up 4-0.

Corona factored into another run in the fourth inning. An error on her ground ball allowed Alex Fantasia to cross the plate.

Gavin picked up her third hit in the seventh as she singled up the middle to plate Kayla McKinnon. McKinnon had a pair of hits.

Johnson & Wales has won 30 games for the third year in a row.

Up Next:
Johnson & Wales advances to Sunday's championship game. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Emmanuel-Suffolk game at 12:30 p.m. The Saints or Rams will have to beat JWU twice to win the title.

Courtesy of JWU Athletics Communications.

#7 Emmanuel 9, #5 Albertus 5 (Second Game Played Saturday)
– A grand slam by Albertus Magnus' Brianna Whitfield in the fifth kept the game going, cutting Emmanuel's lead in half, but the fifth-seeded Falcons could not catch up to the seventh-seeded Saints, who avoided elimination with a 9-5 victory in the GNAC Tournament outing Saturday afternoon at East Boston Memorial Park. 

Emmanuel, who will play Simmons tonight at 5:30 p.m. for a place on Championship Sunday, improved to 24-17 on the season with the upset over Albertus, who ended its season, 23-17. 

Olivia Burgos literally wasted no time to put Emmanuel on the scoreboard as the Saints lead-off hitter sent a solo over the centerfield fence to open the game.

An inning later a two RBI double by Casey Sheehan s a four-run stanza as two unearned runs came across to stretch the Saints lead to five. The scoring frenzy continued in the home half of the fifth with Emmanuel crossing home three more times to turn its advantage into 8-0. 

For the first time in the outing, Albertus Magnus stopped the Saints thanks to back-to-back forced plays at the plate with the bases loaded. The Falcons looked to erase the eight-run rule and did so in grand slam fashion. After the Saints made the forced play at the play with the bags juiced, Whitfield went yard to clear the bases and cut the margin in half, 8-4. Emmanuel kept Albertus Magnus there, however, to remain in front by four.

The Falcons comeback continued in the top of the sixth as Laura Anderson led off the frame with a solo shot to left center.  

Emmanuel kept them there the remainder of the way and took advance of an error by the Falcons' shortstop Whitfield to regain a 9-5 cushion in the bottom of the sixth.

The Saints were led by Burgos and Sheehan at the dish. Burgos knocked a pair of hits with two RBI and two runs, while Sheehan contributed three RBI on two hits to go with one run scored. Burgos homered, while Sheehan rocked a double.

For the Falcons, Whitfield anchored the offense with a two-hit, four-RBI, one-run outing, which featured a grand slam. Kristen Cunning recorded a pair of hits and one run as well.

Megan Kieselback dealt a complete-game for Emmanuel after giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Albertus Magnus' starter Laura Anderson suffered the setback after giving up five runs, one earned, on two hits with one strikeout. Fallon Speers  (1.0 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Megan Ferraro (3.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 BB) also took the rubber for the Falcons.

Courtesy of SUFFOLK Athletics Communications.

#3 Simmons 4, #4 Saint Joseph's Maine 1 (First Game Played Saturday)
 Sophomore Dom Ortiz (Lawrence, Mass.) knocked in a pair of runs and senior starting pitcher Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) allowed just one run on five hits to lead the number three seed Simmons College softball team over fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's College (Maine), 4-1, today in an elimination game in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals at Memorial Park in East Boston, Mass. The Sharks improve to 22-18 on the season, while the Monks fall to 20-19. Simmons advances to play the winner of fifth-seeded Albertus Magnus College and number seven seed Emmanuel College today at 5:30 p.m. at Memorial Park, while Saint Joseph's season comes to an end.

Ortiz was 1-3 with two RBI to finish the day for Simmons, while sophomore designated player Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) and first year first base Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) each knocked in a run and were both 1-3 as well. Nelson improves to 14-8 on the season and allowed just one walk, while striking out three. 

Junior first base Melodie Bailey (Lebanon, Maine) was 2-4 with a double and a run scored to lead the Monks, while sophomore second base Madisyn Charest (Sidney, Maine) also picked up a pair of hits in two at-bats. Junior starting hurler Kristal Smith (Pittston, Maine) (9-10) suffered the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk in addition to five strikeouts.

The Sharks' first three batters reached base in the top of the sixth to load the bases with sophomore second base Lauren Del Vacchio (Murrieta, Calif.) roping a single to center field, first year left fielder Ivy Vann (Bend, Ore.) reaching on an error on a sacrifice bunt and sophomore center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) drawing a walk to put runners on every base without an out for Simmons. Ortiz came through with a two-run single up the middle to plate Del Vacchio and Vann with the Sharks' first two runs of the game for a 2-1 edge. Sophomore designated player Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) and first year first base Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) each followed with run-scoring ground outs to give Simmons a 4-1 lead. 

The Monks looked to rally in the bottom of the seventh when senior right fielder Casidee Couture (Jay, Maine) reached base on an error and junior right fielder Katie Chadbourne (Jaffrey, N.H.) worked a one-out walk to put runners on first and second base. Nelson settled down and retired the final two batters to secure the win for the Sharks and earn her first collegiate playoff victory.

Saint Joseph's loaded the bases in the bottom of the first when Bailey laced a leadoff single through the left side, Charest reached on a bunt single between first base and the pitching circle and sophomore third base Kaylee Burns (Saco, Maine) was hit by a pitch with one out. Nelson limited the damage with sophomore designated player Maizie Lee (Saco, Maine) grounding out to second to plate Bailey with the Monk's only run of the inning. Nelson recorded the final 19 outs without surrendering another run.

Courtesy of SIMMONS Athletics Communications.

First Round - Wednesday, May 2 (single-elimination)
Game 1: #5 Albertus Magnus 6, #8 Lasell 5 | BOX
Game 2: #7 Emmanuel 5, #6 Saint Joseph (CT) 2 | BOX

Second Round - Thursday, May 3 (double-elim begins)
Game 3: #4 Saint Joseph's Maine 7, #5 Albertus Magnus 3 (at #1 Suffolk) | BOX
Game 4: #7 Emmanuel 8, #3 Simmons 3 (at #2 JWU) | BOX
Game 5: #1 Suffolk 2, #4 Saint Joseph's Maine 1 (9 innings) | BOX
Game 6: #2 Johnson & Wales 4, #7 Emmanuel 0 | BOX

Semifinals - Saturday, May 5 (hosted by #1 Suffolk)
Game 7: #3 Simmons 4, #4 Saint Joseph's Maine 1 | BOX (SJC eliminated)
Game 8: #7 Emmanuel 9, #5 Albertus Magnus 5 | BOX (Albertus eliminated)
Game 9: #2 Johnson & Wales 6, #1 Suffolk 0 | BOX
Game 10: #7 Emmanuel 6, #3 Simmons 3 | BOX (Simmons eliminated)

Championship - Sunday, May 6 (hosted by #1 Suffolk)
Game 11: #7 Emmanuel vs. #1 Suffolk (elim game) - 10:00 AM
Game 12: Game 11 winner vs. #2 Johnson & Wales - 12:30 PM
Game 13: if necessary - 3:00 PM

Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.