HENNIKER, N.H. - Pilgrims freshman Daelyn Ross (Freeport, N.Y.) proved why she was the conference's Rookie of the Year, finishing a perfect 3-for-3 with a double and home run, as the second-seeded New England College Pilgrims defeated the sixth-seeded Newbury Nighthawks, 9-0, in the semifinals of the New England Collegiate Conference Tournament.
The loss doesn't eliminate the Nighthawks from the playoffs but does leave them one loss away from the end of their season. For the Pilgrims, they advance along in the winner's bracket with a chance to clinch a spot in the Championship Game with a win on Friday.
Ross's 3-for-3 day included four RBIs and three runs scored. Freshman Emily Nelson (Londonderry, N.H.) batted 2-for-3 with two RBIs while sophomore Taylor Barbour (Bay Shore, N.Y.) went 1-for-2 with a two-run double. Barbour also pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits.
After a scoreless first, NEC got on the board in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Nelson. The Pilgrims doubled the lead later in the inning with an RBI groundout by senior Gabriella Marcheschi (St. James, N.Y.) to hold a 2-0 lead.
NEC added more in the third, starting with Ross's RBI double to center field. Barbour followed with a two-run double to the left-center gap, giving the Pilgrims a 5-0 lead. Nelson capped the four-run third inning with another RBI single which gave NEC a 6-0 lead.
In the Pilgrims fourth, Ross delivered the knockout blow, a three-run home run to left-center field that gave NEC a 9-0 advantage. The home run is her conference-leading 10th home run of the year.
With Newbury's last chance to keep the game going, Barbour struckout the side, helping NEC advance in the winner's bracket with a 9-0 win.
Barbour finished with 12 strikeouts in her five innings, the third-most strikeouts in a game for the sophomore this season. The win moves her to 16-3. Nighthawks freshman Kiana Hinson (La Habra, Calif.) pitched four innings and drops to 9-12 this season.
The Championship Tournament will move to Wentworth Institute of Technology for the Friday games. In today's other semifinal, the top-seeded Eastern Nazarene Lions handled the fourth-seeded Lesley Lynx, 9-1.
The first game of Friday will be the top-seeded Lions against the second-seeded Pilgrims with the winner advancing to the Championship Game and the loser dropping to the loser's bracket.
The second game of Friday will feature the sixth-seeded Nighthawks vs. the fourth-seeded Lynx with the loser eliminated from Championship Weekend while the winner advances in the loser's bracket to face the loser of Lions and Pilgrims on Saturday.
Friday's winner's bracket game starts at 6:00 p.m. The loser's bracket game is set for 8:00 p.m.