Lesley back in softball title game after slugging past Daniel Webster

WELLESLEY, MA – Top seed Lesley University (27-10) slugged its way past No. 3 Daniel Webster College, 9-0 in five innings Friday afternoon in New England Collegiate Conference softball play.

            Nicole Mercurio (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield) went 2-for-3, doubled, homered and drove in three, and fellow sophomore Allison Fountain (Cheshire, CT/Cheshire) went 2-for-3, doubled, homered and drove in four in support of Cassandra Knox (Sea Cliff, NY/North Shore), who allowed only two hits in her five shutout innings in the circle.

            Lesley rallied for two runs with two outs in the first, with Gabrielle Brixey (Coalinga, CA/West Hills CC) singling home Emily Mangiaratti (Amherst, MA/Amherst) and coming around from first on a Mercurio double to the wall in left-center.

            Knox, meanwhile, was hitting her spots, striking out six through three when her battery mate provided her with some insurance. Fountain (Cheshire, CT/Cheshire) doubled to left-center to score Mangiaratti and Jessica Guevara (Nantucket, MA/Nantucket), both of whom singled to lead off the inning, and Mercurio broke the game open for good one batter later.

            The sophomore and reigning NECC Player of the Week homered for the second tournament game in a row and for the fourth time in five games, this time clearing the left-center field wall with a line drive shot that scored NECC Rookie of the Week Fountain and landed the Lynx up 6-0.

            Guevara doubled deep to center to score Mangiaratti in the fourth, and Fountain followed that up with a two-run homer to left. Five of Lesley's 11 hits went for extra bases, four off the bats of Fountain and Mercurio.

            Mangiaratti scored three times for the Lynx, which advance to the NECC Championship (Saturday, 2 p.m.) for the fourth straight season. Daniel Webster, which got one hit each from Lauren Chesnulevich (Hudson, NH/Alvirne) and Chelsey Crawford (Westfield, MA/Westfield), takes on No. 2 Mitchell College on Saturday at noon with both teams' seasons on the line, with the winner advancing to take on the Lynx at 2:00.