Paul's Grand Slam Helps Beavers Clinch First NCAA Tournament Berth Since 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.—First-year Jacqueline Paul (Burlington, N.J.) hit a grand slam as part of a six-run sixth inning as fourth-seeded Babson College defeated second-seeded Springfield College, 8-3, in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Softball Tournament final on Saturday afternoon at Potter Field.
Babson (28-13), which won its third straight elimination game, captured its first NEWMAC title since 2006 and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Springfield (32-9), which is first in the most recent regional rankings, should earn an at-large bid to the national tournament when the field is announced on Monday.
Paul was 3-for-4 with her first career home run, while sophomore Ashley Tango (Reading, Mass.) went 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs batted in for the Beavers, who are fifth in the NCAA regional rankings. First-year Tori Roche (Andover, Mass.) also had a pair of doubles and drove in a run in support of classmate Brooke Stock (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), who was selected as the NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player after picking up her third win of the postseason.
Junior Kirsten Drobiak (Griswold, Conn.) hit a two-run homer and classmate Carianna Gasdia (Wakefield, Mass.) had two hits and scored a run for the Pride. Fellow junior Talia Loda (East Haven, Conn.) suffered her second straight loss after giving up six runs on eight hits to fall to 19-4 on the year.
For the second consecutive game, Springfield jumped on top of the Green and White early as Drobiak hit a two-run blast to right and sophomore Sam Cox (Longmeadow, Mass.) drove in first-year Allie Wheeler (Agawam, Mass.) with a two-out single for a 3-0 advantage. The Beavers cut into their deficit in the fourth when Roche smacked an RBI double to left center and then scored on Tango's single to make it 3-2.
First-year Victoria Casey (Emerson, N.J.) walked to lead off the sixth, junior Samantha Smith (Hillsborough, N.J.) was hit by a pitch and first-year Annie Mitchell (Rehoboth, Mass.) singled down the left field line before Paul cleared the bases with a grand slam to left center to chase Loda. Tango later capped the inning with a triple to right that plated sophomore Josephine Mares (Houston, Texas) and first-year Kayla Schinik (Watchung, N.J.) for an 8-3 advantage.
Stock (16-6) allowed three runs on nine hits while striking out six and walking just one. In four NEWMAC Tournament games she went 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 28.0 innings.
Babson will learn where it will open NCAA Tournament play on Monday at 1 p.m.
• The Beavers, who went 3-2 this season against Springfield, are now 9-9 all-time against the Pride in NEWMAC Tournament play.
• Paul hit safely in each of Babson's final five conference playoff games and led the team with seven runs batted in over the six-game tournament.
• The Beavers' 28 victories this season are tied for the fourth most in program history.
• Babson is 22-9 away from home this season.