CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - With the final postseason berth in the New England Collegiate Conference Championship at stake, the Mitchell College softball team came up on the short end of 8-6 and 14-10 finals at Newbury College on Sunday afternoon.
The sweep lifted the Nighthawks to 12-25 overall (5-11 NECC) while the Mariners ended the season at 11-22 overall (4-12 NECC). Newbury enters the postseason as the sixth seed and will travel to Becker College in the opening round.
Suzanne Vachon capped her collegiate career with a monster day at the plate, going 8-for-9 with a double and three RBI in the twin bill to lead the Mitchell offense. Kaitlin Thibodeau-Corey finished with five hits while Taylor Duchesneau added four hits, two of which went for doubles.
Game 1 - Newbury 8, Mitchell 6
The Nighthawks, who began the day needing a pair of wins to grab the playoff spot, kept hopes alive with a comeback win in the opener. Cameron LeClaire went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. while Averi Johnson went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and two RBI. Alexis Vieira, Caroline Mahoney and Kiana Hinson all finished 2-for-4.
Vachon finished with four singles in the game while Duchesneau and Thibodeau-Corey had three hits apiece. Both of Duchesneau's doubles came in the opener while Thibodeau-Corey also added a two-bagger.
The Nighthawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Mariners charged ahead in the top of the second with five runs. An RBI double by Laurissa Amaker and an RBI single by Paige Aguilar tied the game at 2-2, and the Mariners took their first lead of the day on a two-run double by Madison Nicynski. Mitchell added one more in the inning on an RBI single by Sydney Oatway to lead 5-2.
In the fourth, two-run single by Hailey Shaw got the Nighthawks back to within a run at 5-4. In the bottom of the fifth, Newbury surged ahead behind a four-run inning. A two-run single by LeClaire gave the Nighthawks the lead back at 6-5. Johnson then provided a two-run triple to right field for an 8-5 advantage.
The Mariners threatened in the top of the seventh, adding a run on an RBI double by Duchesneau to trail 8-6. However, the Nighthawks escaped further damage to escape with the win, setting the stage for a winner-take-all scenario in the second game.
Game 2 - Newbury 14, Mitchell 10
The two teams combined for 24 runs and 36 hits in the decisive game, but it was the Nighthawks who claimed the final playoff spot with a 14-10 win.
Averi Johnson batted 3-for-5 with a double, home run and three RBI while Caroline Mahoney went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Mahoney's home run was her third of the season while Johnson hit her second. Alexis Vieira finished 2-for-4 with three RBI in the contest.
Vachon once again paced the Mariners by going 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI. Nicynski batted 3-for-5 with three RBI and Kaitlin Thibodeau-Corey finished 2-for-5 with two RBI.
Three innings of dramatic and explosive softball saw the Mariners holding an 8-5 advantage as the game headed for the bottom of the fourth. The Nighthawks grabbed the lead in the frame, scoring all five runs with two outs. A two-run single by Mahoney and a two-run base hit by Vieira gave Newbury its first lead of the game at 9-8. The Nighthawks took a 10-8 lead later in the inning on an RBI single by Kiana Hinson.
Hailey Shaw added some much-needed insurance in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run single up the middle, giving Newbury a 12-8 lead. The four-run lead was cut in half in the top of the sixth on a two-run single to right field by Vachon. However, Newbury bumped the lead back to four in the home half on a single by LeClaire and an RBI fielder's choice by Johnson.
Mitchell began the seventh with back-to-back singles, but two fly balls to right field and a pop out to the shortstop ended the game.