BOSTON -- For the second straight season, Boston University and Albany will decide the America East Softball title as both teams advanced to Sunday's championship game with wins Saturday at BU Softball Field.
Top-seeded Boston U. made its fourth straight title game by beating Stony Brook, 7-3, in the first of three games Saturday. Third-seeded Albany stayed alive by upending fourth-seeded Maine, 2-0, in the second game of the day, then turned around and eliminated the Seawolves, 6-5, in the nightcap.
The Terriers and Great Danes will play for the America East crown at 10 a.m. Sunday. Should Albany win, the two teams would play again immediately following the first game.
In Saturday's opener, Boston U. (39-14) struck first after loading the bases in the first inning against Stony Brook's Allison Cukrov, the conference's Pitcher of the Year. Chelsea O’'Connor got the hosts on the board by lifting a sacrifice fly to left to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead. Stony Brook answered back in the home half of the first cashing in on a Shayla Giosia double to tie game.
Stony Brook (36-16-1), which equaled its most wins as a Division I program with 36, took a 2-1 lead in the third thanks to a Bernadette Tenuto RBI single, but Boston U. pitcher Whitney Tuthill got out of further damage. Tenuto finished 2-for-4 on the day with two RBI.
Boston U. scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames to take a 4-2 lead. Stony Brook got one back in the sixth and threatened for more, loading the bases with none out. But, Tuthill, a second-team all-conference selection, induced three straight ground balls, including two force plays at the plate, to preserve Boston U.'s lead.
The Terriers, who have won 15 of their last 16 games, then tacked on three more in the seventh to pad their lead. Jayme Mask led off with a single and promptly stole second base to get in scoring position. An Erica Casacci single moved Mask to third and she scored on a Megan Volpano sacrifice fly to center. The big hit in the inning came from Emily Roesch, a first-team all-league second baseman, who smacked a two-run double to right-center field gap.
Tuthill went the distance for the Terriers giving up three runs on 10 hits to get the win, her 14th of the season. Cukrov pitched into the seventh allowing eight hits and all seven Terrier runs in 6.2 innings of work.
In the first elimination game of the afternoon between Albany (36-13) and Maine (17-30-1), the Great Danes' Brittany MacFawn faced just two batters over the minimum in a complete game one-hitter to propel her Great Danes to a 2-0 win over the Black Bears.
MacFawn, a first-team all-conference pitcher and the Most Outstanding Player of last year's tournament, did not allow a runner to reach second base and didn't give up her first hit until the fifth inning. She struck out eight and walked two en route to her 19th win of the season. Maine’s Brynne Davis broke up MacFawn’'s no-no with two outs in the fifth but that’s all the Black Bears could muster against the Albany righty.
The Great Danes scored the only run they would need in the top of the second. Kylie Apostolina ripped a single to leftfield and scored on the very next play on a Maine error. Albany added an insurance run in the seventh on a Vicky McFarland RBI single to center.
Maine’'s Ashley Kelley suffered the tough-luck loss allowing just one earned run and six hits in a complete game effort.
Albany'’s win propelled it into a win or go home matchup with Stony Brook in Saturday’s nightcap. The Great Danes jumped out early on Stony Brook’s Cukrov, striking for two runs in the first inning without recording a hit. Diane MacDowell scored one of her two runs on the day when Kylie Apostolina was hit by a pitch. A Katie Wambold fielder’s choice allowed Taylor Franich to score from third and it was quickly 2-0.
Stony Brook responded in the top half of the second as Bernadette Tenudo belted a lead-off home run to left off of Albany starter Brittany Schwieger. Two batters later, Lauren Maloney picked up a double and later scored on an Schwieger throwing error.
It was 2-2 in the bottom of third when Albany touched Cukrov for four more runs. MacDowell roped a double down the right field line to get the inning started and Franich followed with a triple. Apostolina drove in Franich with a single of her own right before a Wambold RBI single and another Stony Brook error gave Albany a 6-2 lead.
The Seawolves battled back plating a single run in the fourth and then two more in the fifth thanks to a Shayla Giosia homer to left to make it 6-5. Stony Brook had the tying run in scoring position in the top of the seventh but MacFawn got Giosia to line into a game-ending double play.
MacFawn picked up the save in relief of Schwieger, who pitched six innings striking out six and giving up five runs. MacDowell finished the game 1-for-1 with two walks for the Danes and Maloney paced the Stony Brook offense going 3-for-3 at the plate.
This will be the third time in the last four years and fifth time overall Boston U. and Albany will decide the league champion. The Terriers are attempting to become the first host to win the tournament since 2004 while the Great Danes are attempting join Hofstra's 1999 squad as the only teams to lose their tournament opener and win the championship.
2012 America East Softball Championship
At Boston University Softball Field
Friday, May 11
Game 1: No. 1 Boston U. 3,vs. No. 4 Maine 2
Game 2: No. 2 Stony Brook 6, No. 3 Albany 4
Saturday, May 12
Game 3: Boston U. 7, Stony Brook 3
Game 4: Albany 2, Maine 0 (elimination game)
Game 5: Albany 6, Stony Brook 5 (elimination game)
Sunday, May 13
Game 6: Albany vs. Boston U. 10 a.m. (championship game)
Game 7: Albany vs. Boston U., 12:30 p.m. (if necessary)