Trailblazers beat Bridgewater to advance to championship game

Trailblazers beat Bridgewater to advance to championship game

Courtesy of Bridgewater Athletics

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- MCLA freshman Rachel Quackenbush (Hoosick Falls, NY) tossed a six-hitter with nine strikeouts as she helped lead the second-seeded Trailblazers to a 2-1 triumph over #1 Bridgewater State in the Semifinal round of the MASCAC Softball Tournament this afternoon at Alumni Park. 

MCLA (21-20) advances to their first conference championship game since the 2003 campaign tomorrow at 12 PM while the Bears (23-15) try to stave off elimination against fourth-seeded Fitchburg State in the final contest of the semifinal round at 4 o'clock.

Trailing 1-0 with two outs in the top of the sixth, senior Megan Boyer (Clarksburg, MA) induced a slow roller to the hole at shortstop. 

But the ball got by the third baseman and allowed both freshman Michaela DiNicola (Lanesboro, MA) and sophomore Amanda Meczywor (Adams, MA) to score the go-ahead runs. Both reached base on an infield single and a fielder's choice and moved into scoring position on a base-knock to the shortstop by freshman Tanelle Ciempa (Adams, MA).

Early on Bridgewater State wasted a lead-off triple by sophomore Jessica Laudati (Berkley, MA) in the bottom of the second before taking the 1-0 edge on an RBI double by Laudati in the fourth to drive in junior Jill Welch(Hubbartston, MA).

With Laudati at third, the Bears looked poised to add to their lead with one man down, but Quackenbush bore down and ended the threat by ringing up the next two batters on strikes. 

Junior Amber White (Middleboro, MA) tossed three perfect frames before she found herself in a jam in the top of the fourth. 

Senior Kendra Hobbs (Haverhill, MA) reached on a misplayed bunt play by the catcher and then DiNicola reached on a fielder's choice in an attempt to get the lead-runner at second. After sophomore Angelica Perfido (Whately, MA) helped juice the bases on an infield single, White responded by fanning the next two batters to end the Trailblazer rally.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Bears nearly scored the equalizer to force extra innings, but the Trailblazers ended the contest when senior Brianna Strecker (Waterford, CT) was tagged in a run-down before freshman Meaghan Pacheco (Somerset, MA) crossed home plate with two outs.

Quackenbush (11-6) yielded the lone earned run and issued two walks in her 12th complete game  of the campaign and 17th start. 

White (12-6) recorded a season-best 12 strikeouts in the defeat as she gave up two unearned runs on four hits and walked no one. The punch-out total was one shy of equaling her career high.

The Bears were hurt by multiple defensive lapses including four errors in the game.

Laudati was 3-for-3 and a home-run shy of the cycle as she was the lone multi-hitter in the contest. The Bears also led in base-knocks, 6-4.