BANGOR, Maine — They are roommates, Husson University softball teammates and both in the school of hospitality and tourism management.
Nicky and Lona Sargent also happen to be sisters.
And they are two of the reasons the 33-11 Eagles will be playing in their fourth straight NCAA Division III Regional beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday when they tangle with host Amherst College (34-4) in Amherst, Mass. Husson is the sixth seed while Amherst is the third seed.
The Eagles are one of three Maine schools in the eight-team double-elimination tournament.
St. Joseph’s College of Standish, 33-7 and the fifth seed, will face Keene State (N.H.), 25-10-1 and the fourth seed, at noon and No. 7 University of New England from Biddeford, 26-12, will meet No. 2 SUNY-Plattsburgh, 31-9, at 4.
The Sargents are from Sullivan and starred at Sumner Memorial High School.
Junior center fielder Lona Sargent is the leading hitter among the Husson regulars at .430. She also leads the team in hits (52) and runs (39) despite hitting ninth in the order. She has a homer, 24 runs batted in and has stolen 21 bases without being caught. She has struck out just five times and walked only once.
Lona was a first-team All-North Atlantic Conference selection.
Older sister Nicky, a fifth-year senior who sat out last year due to knee surgery, is hitting .327 and shares the team lead in RBIs with 30. She has eight doubles.
Nicky Sargent has had to undergo two surgeries on the same knee after injuring it on two separate occasions and she admitted that “it was a big challenge to come back.”
“But I’m glad I did. This year has been totally worth it,” said Nicky. “Sitting in the dugout [not being able to play] for every game last year gave me a different perspective. I appreciate it a lot more.”
She said playing with her sister has added to the experience.
“It’s great. We’ve played together since we were 10 years old and our dad would hit fly balls to us. We loved it,” said Nicky. “We were two of seven kids in the family and we took softball to heart. It’s been something we’ve been able to connect with.”
“We do everything together, which drives us crazy sometimes. But it’s definitely worth it,” said Nicky, grinning.
Lona said she’s glad her big sister was able to return this season and credited her with playing an important role in her success.
“She’s always there to help me,” said Lona.
Her impressive numbers can be attributed to the fact “I’ve been picking out good pitches to hit. I’ve been focusing and seeing the ball real well. I’ve also opened up my stance [to see the ball better].”
They are two different types of hitters.
“Lona has the worst-looking swing, but she’s able to hit the ball every time. She’s very quick. She has very quick hands, a very quick bat and quick feet,” said Nicky. “She doesn’t walk and she’s very tough to strike out.”
Lona said her big sister is more of a “power hitter. She always puts the ball in play and she’s able to find a hole.”
Husson coach Amanda Bourgoin said the sisters have brought a lot to the program.
In addition to their offensive prowess, Bourgoin said, “They’re great kids and they play great defense. Lona is one of the best outfielders I’ve seen. And Nicky is a great leader.”
Junior right fielder Courtney Hill said Nicky “has fought through a lot” during her career and they all look up to her.
Husson has never won an NCAA Tournament game in its previous three visits and the Eagles are hoping to change that beginning Thursday.
“This is, by far, the best team I’ve ever been on,” said Nicky. “Everyone who steps to the plate has potential to get a hit. That’s one thing I’d never been able to say before. And we play solid defense as well.”
“I want to change things. I’d like to win a couple of games,” added Nicky. “This is my last time and that would be great.”