NORTON, Mass. - April 23, 2008 -- Sophomore Megan Kiefer slugged a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to cap the Smith College softball team's rally from a five-run deficit, and freshman Salma Mehter added three hits and a game-saving catch during the sixth-seeded Pioneers' 6-5 upset of number-three Springfield College on Wednesday in the first round of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament at Wheaton College's Clark Field.
Smith snapped a three-game losing streak in improving to 14-21. The Pioneers will face second-seeded Wheaton in the second round during today's second contest, marking the third straight postseason the teams will have met. Springfield fell to 24-15, losing for just the fourth time in 19 games. The Pride will play in an elimination game on Saturday against fifth-seeded Babson College at 12:00 p.m. at Wellesley College.
Down 5-0 with two outs and no one on in the fourth, Smith put together a fierce comeback, as a walk and a single sparked a three-run rally in the frame. Mehter hit an RBI double to right field, and Kiefer immediately followed with a two-run single to center. The next inning, senior Taryn Pestalozzi doubled home classmate Kathryn Shoenen, who had led off with a ground-rule double. In the sixth, Mehter beat out a one-out infield single before Kiefer drove her game-winning home run to left field.
Springfield nearly got the runs back, as the Pride trailed by one in the bottom of the seventh before sophomore Jaimie Moran (Manchester, Conn.) drew a four-pitch walk with two down. Junior Aimee Cassella (Southington, Conn.) was called upon to pinch hit, sending a long drive to right field that a backpedaling Mehter hauled in at the fence for the final out of the game.
The Pride appeared to be in control early in the contest, scoring once in the second inning, despite rapping out four hits. The lone run was plated on a passed ball. The following frame, Springfield scored four times on six hits, half of its total for the game. Moran, senior Denise Fumicello (Brockton, Mass.) and sophomore Bryn Worrilow (North Babylon, N.Y.) each drove in runs, while Moran scored on a wild pitch.
In the middle of the third, Smith made a key pitching change, as senior Dezarai Fisher came out of the bullpen to fire 4.2 innings of shutout ball, yielding only four hits. She earned the win, striking out three and walking one. Mehter finished 3-for-4 with two runs, Kiefer was 2-for-4 with four RBI, while junior Crystal Fryer and sophomore Laura Robitzek added two hits apiece.
Junior Danielle Spiro (South Windsor, Conn.) led Springfield with two hits and two runs, while Moran, Worrilow and freshman Jessica Hillman (Seymour, Conn.) turned in two hits apiece. Junior Samantha Rhodes (Mendon, Mass.) took the loss after allowing six earned runs on 12 hits while striking out six and walking one.