BANGOR, Maine — Tuesday afternoon’s North Atlantic Conference softball quarterfinal between Husson University and Johnson State College amounted to a one-game season for both teams.
The Badgers put some pressure on the top-seeded Eagles early, but Husson settled down and advanced with a 9-1 five-inning victory at O’Keefe Field.
With the win, coach Amanda Bourgoin’s Eagles (26-10-1) earned the right to host the NAC semifinals and finals starting Friday.
“It’s always nerve-wracking, when you have a good season, to come out here and actually have to really fight for it, because everybody wants us at this point,” said sophomore Victoria Overlock of Belfast, who paced Husson with a double, two singles and two RBIs.
The Eagles take on No. 5 University of Maine-Farmington (11-13) in Friday’s 10 a.m. game. Third seed Castleton State and No. 7 Lyndon State play in the noon contest of the double-elimination tournament.
Johnson State of Johnson, Vt., finished its season at 8-17.
The Badgers came out swinging and posted four hits in the first two innings, but could not score against Husson starter Amanda Ryan of Brewer.
She struck out the side after allowing the first two batters to reach base in the first inning, then pitched around three consecutive two-out singles in the second.
“They came out swinging the bat,” Bourgoin said. “[Ryan] was hitting her spots pretty good. Credit to them, they did a good job putting the bat on the ball.”
It was Husson that got on the scoreboard first, in the second inning. Deb Colpitts of Levant reached on an error, Heidi Shaw of Manchester beat out a bunt single and both advanced on Melissa Souza’s sacrifice bunt. Haley Spiers followed with an RBI groundout.
The Badgers tied it in the third when Katja Langmaid and Andrea Williams pounded doubles to left-center.
Johnson State managed only three hits combined when swept by Husson 8-0 and 10-0 on April 14.
Bourgoin went to the bullpen and brought in Becca McCarty of Skowhegan, who ended the threat by striking out the next to hitters. She retired all eight batters she faced and struck out four.
“The two pitches they hit off [Ryan] were her rise ball,” said McCarty, who was making her sixth relief appearance in 20 games in the circle. “I knew I had to keep it down a little. I threw rise, some screw[balls], a lot of fastballs today.”
Ryan struck out six in 2 1/3 innings.
Husson quickly broke the 1-1 tie, scoring four times in the third inning. Courtney Hill of Calais hit an infield single, stole second and moved up on a passed ball.
Biddeford’s Aimee Mortensen smashed a double to left-center to plate the eventual winning run, then Hermon’s Sami Schultz roped another double to the same gap. Overlock delivered the third run with a pop-fly double to left and, one out later, Shaw punched an opposite-field double to left.
“I think nerves played a little bit,” Bourgoin said. “Once they relaxed and got a couple runs behind them, they got back to playing the game that they usually play.”
The Eagles tallied four runs in the fourth with the help of two errors and a run-scoring single by Overlock. Husson ended the game via the eight-run rule in the fifth when Lona Sargent of Sullivan singled, stole second, took third on a throwing error and scored on a passed ball with two outs.
Overlock finished with a double and two singles. Shaw provided a double, a single and two RBIs, while Hill logged two singles, two stolen bases and two runs scored.
Alex Bean hit two singles to lead Johnson State behind losing pitcher Williams, who struck out five. The Badgers committed five errors.