Beavers, Pilgrims square off in NAC Quarterfinals
FARMINGTON, Maine -- The University of Maine at Farmington softball team is seeded sixth in the upcoming North Atlantic Conference Tournament and is scheduled to visit No. 3 New England College in the quarterfinals Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Beavers finished the regular with a 10-20 record, including a 6-10 mark in the NAC. UMF has reached the NAC Championship Round in each of the past five seasons.
"The regular season has been very up and down," said head coach Cyndi Pratt. "We have played very well at times but not with the consistency needed to earn a home play off spot. We have put ourselves in a tough position but we have the talent to make a strong run in the play offs if we can put together seven solid innings of softball. We need to play clean defensively and not give up any unearned runs, as well as string together hits and we have a chance against anyone in the conference."
Junior designated player/pitcher Kaitlyn Bartlett (Chesterville, Maine) leads the Beavers offensively with a .412 batting average, seven home runs and conference-best 30 runs batted in followed by senior first baseman Shannon Mitchell (Portsmouth, N.H.) at .368, seven home runs and 23 RBI and sophomore shortstop Amy Jones (Augusta, Maine) at .340 with seven home runs and 27 RBI.
Bartlett totes a 5-11 record with 70 strikeouts and a 3.14 earned-run average. Sophomore hurler Emma Vaillancourt (Saco, Maine) has a 4-7 mark with 68 strikeouts and a 4.85 ERA.
On April 6, the Pilgrims (19-17, 11-5) defeated UMF 14-8, 3-1 in conference play at Prescott Field. Bartlett homered twice and Jones and Mitchell each had a homer as the Beavers led the slugfest opener 7-5 in the third inning before NEC scored two or more runs in each of the final frames to take the win. In game two,
"The second game was was competitive right up until the last pitch," said Pratt. "Kaitlyn Bartlett pitched that game and will get the start on Tuesday. She has been a workhorse for us this year on the mound. Our defense has to play clean behind her and we need to get some timely hits."
LiAnn Linck powered the Pilgrims in the doubleheader with a 5-for-8 performance at the plate, including two home runs and six RBI. Teraysa White and Jessica Kiehl also enjoyed five-hit afternoons.
On the season, Linck is hitting .416 with 27 RBI and a NAC-high 20 stolen bases with White also above .400 (.404) and Alyssa Hoot leading the Pilgrims with seven home runs.
Gabrielle Timms, also a .398 hitter, leads NEC in pitching appearances (19) with a 9-9 record, 77 strikeouts and 3.36 ERA, while Elizabeth Harrigan is 8-4 with a 4.49 ERA.
UMF has stumbled down the stretch, dropping its last 10 games dating back to April 15's doubleheader at Castleton State College. Heading into Tuesday's quarterfinal clash with the Pilgrims, the Beavers are looking to "wipe the slate clean and focus," according to Pratt.
"We are feeling confident going into the playoffs," she said. "I told the team after our last game that we have a whole new season to play."
Husson University has earned the top seed in the upcoming NAC Tournament. Castleton and Husson finished tied atop the regular season standings with identical 15-1 marks and after using pre-determined tie-breaking procedures the Eagles have earned the No. 1 seed.
Winners of three straight NAC titles, Husson finished the regular season at 27-9 overall, and 15-1 in conference play and will host eight-seeded Lyndon (11-23, 3-13) in a quarterfinal match up Tuesday. Castleton earned the second seed at 20-14, 15-1 and will host seventh-seeded Johnson State (9-24-1, 3-12-1) Tuesday, while fourth-seeded Thomas (12-23-1, 9-6-1) will host fifth-seeded Maine Maritime(14-14, 7-9) in quarterfinal action.
First round winners will advance to the highest remaing seed for a double-elimination tournament with contests beginning Friday.