Lesley Softball NCAA run ends with loss to Ithaca

Lesley Softball NCAA run ends with loss to Ithaca

MANSFIELD, CT -- No. 4 seed Ithaca College advanced behind five shutout innings from sophomore starter Sam Bender, besting eighth-seeded Lesley University 6-0 and ending the Lynx season in the NCAA Tournament.

Designated player and leadoff hitter Emily Mangiaratti (Amherst, MA/Amherst) went 2-for-3 for the Lynx, while sophomores Nicole Mercurio (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield) and Sarah Apgar (Andover, NJ/Lenape) each went 1-for-3.

A Lindsay Dell'Orto two-run single in the fifth and Sydney Polk bases-clearing double in the sixth broke open what was a one-run game throughout, advancing the Bombers to Saturday.

Lynx starter Cassandra Knox (Sea Cliff, NY/North Shore) worked into and out of a jam in the first inning. A pair of walks wrapped around a bunt single loaded the bases for No. 6 hitter Dell'Orto, who grounded back to Knox to end the threat.

In the second, a squibber off the bat of Bombers catcher Lindsey Johnson landed between Knox and shortstop Sarah Apgar, putting two on with none out. A wild pitch sent the runners to second and third, and a Francesca Busa single put Ithaca on the board at 1-0. A walk then loaded the bases for the second time in as many innings, but with two down, Knox fanned cleanup batter Polk, escaping with only minimal damage.

Lesley would put runners on but could not capitalize in the middle innings. Mangiaratti and Mercurio bounced home base hits in the third and fourth but were both stranded on first at inning's end.  

As it did a day earlier when by totaling four errors, the Lynx infield defense again let the team down in the fifth. With one out and Biondi on second, Lisa Bates bounced a grounder to Apgar at short, whose throw beat Biondi to third base but was dropped by Jenna Fralick.

With runners now on second a third and two outs, Dell'Orto knocked a single to center to score Bates, but Gabrielle Brixey's accurate throw home easily beat Julianne Vincent to the plate, only to bounce off catcher Allison Fountain's glove to hand Ithaca a 3-0 lead mid-five.

Lesley put the tying run on base in the fifth, when a Sarah Apgar (Andover, NJ/Lenape) single and a Mangiaratti infield hit past the mound put two on with two outs. In her first plate appearance in over two weeks, pinch-hitter Jodi Doka walked to load the bases, but Fountain flew out to center to bring to an end Lynx best opportunity of the game.

The Bombers responded by loading the bases in the bases and subsequently opening the game up in the sixth. With two outs and the bases loaded for Folk, the Bombers first base player cleared the bags with a three-run double to the corner in left, lifting Ithaca to a 6-0 lead.

Sophomore Jillian Olmstead came on in relief, retiring the Lynx in order in the sixth and seventh to lock up the Bombers 6-0 win.

Lesley wraps up its season at 28-12, winning a fourth straight New England Collegiate Conference title, a fifth straight conference title overall and returning to the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season. The Lynx graduate the 2011 NECC Pitcher of the Year in Knox and 2012 NECC Player of the Year in Fralick but will return four All-NECC First Teamers, including 2012 Pitcher of the Year Jennifer Dorval (Franklin, NH/Franklin).