BEVERLY, Mass. — Melissa Sprague (Londonderry, N.H.) tossed a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts for the University of New England in the opener of a 6-1 and 7-6 doubleheader sweep of Endicott College in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) softball action Friday afternoon at the EC Softball Complex.
The Nor’easters (7-5, 3-1 CCC) took the regular-season pair from the Gulls (4-10, 0-4 CCC) for the second time in as many years — just the third occasion for UNE against 11 similar results going the other direction.
Sprague’s effort in GAME 1 was the first one-hit performance by a Big Blue hurler in a seven-inning contest since 2010. The sophomore entered the week ranked fifth in Division III in strikeouts per seven innings (11.7), and added to that pace with UNE’s fourth-highest game total in at least 22 seasons.
Lauren Gerhard (Merrimack, N.H.) opened the scoring for the Nor’easters in the top of the 4th, sending around Caroline Schoenbucher (Barrington, N.H.) for the first of her three runs.
Endicott answered right back in the bottom of the frame with its lone hit — a solo shot by Jamie Hopgood.
UNE grabbed the lead for good in the 6th, plating three prior to the initial out. Schoenbucher singled and stole second before Andrea Gosper (Wyoming, R.I.) supplied an RBI-double. Gerhard followed with a two-run blast to make it 4-1.
Sprague put two aboard in the last half of the 6th, by way of a walk and hit-by-pitch, but fanned the next two batters to preserve the cushion.
With one down in the 7th, Sydney Helmbrecht (Grand Rapids, Minn.) and Schoenbucher laced back-to-back doubles to tack another run on the board, and an error later capped the scoring.
Joining Schoenbucher and Gerhard with a pair of base knocks for the Nor’easters was Helmbrecht and Bailey Tremblay (Saco, Maine).
Laura Somerville took the loss in the circle for the Gulls.