In a double-header match-up between the top predators of the GNAC, the first game found the Lions being hunted.,Both the Emerson and Western New England College (WNEC) softball squads saw their winning streaks end last Saturday afternoon. Emerson had won its previous 20 games while WNEC had won 63 straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) contests.
In a double-header match-up between the top predators of the GNAC, the first game found the Lions being hunted. In a 1-1 tie after four innings, WNEC scored 10 runs off starting pitcher Heather Drobiarz in the fifth inning.
The Lions had heard of WNEC's hitting ability and it was something Drobiarz experienced first hand.
However, she said she learned from her outing, noting pitching location was vital.
"I wasn't hitting the corners too well [in the fifth inning] and [against] a good hitting team, you can't really do that," Drobiarz said.
Despite a home run by Lindsay DeStefano in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Lions still lost the game 11-2.
Pitcher Sara Collings, like the rest of the squad, said she wasn't too happy with the result of the first contest.
"The first game was horrible and it was embarrassing," Collings said about the first game.
Hitting was the Lions' poacher in game one, as the team only managed to scratch across two runs.
"We didn't hit well in the first game and that's why it [was] so tight," McElroy said. "We have one bad inning and they score 10 runs."
During a break between the two games, McElroy rallied the pack, telling them to forget the first contest and focus on the next.
"We said the same thing. If we go out there and win [the second] game, we can forget about this first game," McElroy said. "That's basically what we did."
But the second game didn't get off to a better start Lions than the first. They fell behind early and trailed by five heading into the bottom half of the third until they rallied for seven runs, highlighted by a grand slam by Mallory Moretti.
Moretti said hitting a home run was the last thing on her mind.
"I had been slapping the first game and when he told me to get out there and hit, I was like okay," Moretti said. "I just saw a nice little pitch on the outside corner and drove it."
Slapping is a bunt technique where the hitter's body is moving while the pitch is in motion, allowing players to be already running toward first base.
The seven-run third inning gave the Lions an 8-6 lead and they never looked back.
With only a week left in the regular season, McElroy said the team hopes to finish strong in its final regular season games.
Collings said she believes in the end, the three contenders for the GNAC title will be Emerson, and two perennial playoff teams, Suffolk and WNEC.
With competition as tight as it is, Collings said the conference championship can be won by any team.
"Whoever plays the best is going to win," Collings said. "Personally, I think we're better than [WNEC and Suffolk] but it just depends on what team shows up on any given day."
Moretti agreed, saying teams can't make errors if they want to win.
"Whoever doesn't make the mistakes is going to win the game," Moretti said.
Collings also said WNEC is a beatable team, but they have an aura about them which helps in winning games.
"They're not that good," Collings said. "They have this mystique that they're unbeatable. They're a good hitting team. But if you make the plays and you keep in the game, then you're going to win."
While McElroy is confident Emerson can hang with WNEC, he said the Golden Bears will remain on top of the GNAC food chain until they are extinct from conference the playoffs.
"WNEC is considered to be the best team in the conference until it is proved otherwise," McElroy said. "We proved today we can play with them and we can beat them. We proved that in the second game."
Collings echoed McElroy's confidence in the Lions' ability to end WNEC's hunt for its fourth straight GNAC championship.
"I think we're gong to take the whole thing this year as long as we play solid as we can," she said.