BROOKLINE, Mass. - A fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Nighthawks junior Alexis Vieira (Pawtucket, R.I.) turned out to be the difference maker in a low scoring affair as the Newbury Nighthawks advance to the New England Collegiate Conference Semifinals by virtue of a 3-2 win over the Elms Blazers on Tuesday afternoon from Hellenic Diamond.
Nighthawks senior Samantha Libby (New Gloucester, Maine) and sophomore Arianna Gooden (Bakersfield, Calif.) both batted 2-for-3. Libby finished with a triple, Gooden had a double and RBI. Vieira became the ninth player in program history to reach 100 career hits with a base hit in the third.
Blazers senior Elizabeth Olszewski (Canterbury, Conn.) finished 1-for-3, including a solo home run, the eighth of her season. Junior Catharine Wrang (Middletown, Conn.) batted 2-for-3.
The Nighthawks took a 1-0 lead on a two-out double by Gooden, scoring junior Alina Milauskas (Elkridge, Md.) all the way from first.
The Blazers tied the game in the third on a dropped pop-up by the Nighthawks that would have ended the inning. Junior Rachel Connell (Easthampton, Mass.) scored on the error, tying the game 1-1.
Newbury responded in their half of the third, starting with Libby's lead-off triple down the left-field line. Nighthawks junior Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.) stepped in and singled through the left side, giving the Nighthawks a 2-1 lead.
The Nighthawks doubled the lead in the fifth on the sacrifice fly, scoring Sass for a 3-1 lead.
In the Blazers sixth, Olszewski hit her conference-leading eighth home run, cutting the deficit back to one run, 3-2.
After five innings by sophomore Mallory Stefan (Thornton, Colo.) the Nighthawks went to Libby for only the second time this season. From there, Libby retired the last six batters in a row, earning the first save for a Nighthawks pitcher since 2016 as the Nighthawks advance with the 3-2 win.
Stefan takes the win, allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits. Stefan struck out three and improves to 10-13. Blazers junior Lisa Lusardi (Enfield, Conn.) went 4.1 innings, allowing two runs, both earned, allowing five hits and striking out a pair. Lusardi falls to 7-11 this season.
The Nighthawks advance to their sixth-straight Championship Weekend and will begin their quest for their first NECC Title on Thursday as they take on the No. 1 seeded Lesley Lynx at Regis College to start the double-elimination tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.