The University of Maine’s bid to capture a second consecutive America East Softball Tournament championship came up short on Sunday as the University at Albany beat UMaine 6-1 after the resilient Black Bears had forced a title game by shutting out Albany 2-0 in the championship round opener earlier in the day.
UMaine, the second seed, had beaten top seed Binghamton 2-1 on Friday in an elimination game to move into the championship round against fourth seed Albany, which was 3-0 in the double-elimination affair entering Sunday’s play.
UMaine had previously lost to Albany 8-2 on Friday.
Saturday’s games were rained out and senior lefty Erin Bogdanovich, who injured her left forearm in Thursday’s 9-1 win over sixth seed Hartford, returned to the circle on Sunday and scattered seven hits in the shutout victory.
Albany, 27-16, will now advance to the NCAA Division I Tournament. UMaine finished the season at 19-25.
In the title game, Chelsea Henige’s three-run homer to center capped a four-run third inning rally that erased a 1-0 deficit and Donna Conrad plated a pair of insurance runs in the seventh with a double to back the pitching of Devin Durando.
The Black Bears had taken a 1-0 lead in the first when Rachel Carlson singled, moved to second on a walk and scored on Maddie Moore’s base hit.
Molly Flowers, who had started both games on Friday including a complete game gem against Binghamton, started the final game but, after a three-hour, seven-minute rain delay in the top of the third, Bogdanovich replaced her at the outset with a runner on first and nobody out.
Kate Bailey had opened the third with a bunt single off Flowers before the rains came.
After the game restarted, Bailey was sacrificed to second and scored the tying run on Sarah Petzold’s base hit.
America East Player of the Year Liz Snow followed with a base hit and both runners moved up on a passed ball before Henige homered.
The Black Bears loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the third but Durando induced Kristen Niland to pop up to short to end the threat.
Durando went the distance for the win, allowing nine hits but just the one run as she stranded 10 Black Bear baserunners. She walked two and struck out two.
Henige had a single to go with her homer.
Alyssa Derrick doubled and singled for UMaine and Erika Leonard had a pair of base hits as did Carlson.
UMaine was without suspended senior catcher Rachel Harvey and relief pitcher Annie Kennedy.
In Sunday’s first game, Bogdanovich struck out eight and walked two while stranding 10 Great Danes.
Sophomore third baseman Derrick was the offensive star, walloping her 15th homer of the season in the third inning and singling home Carlson in the fifth.
Derrick tied Sara Jewett’s team single-season homer record with the blast.
Carlson had a pair of singles for the Black Bears while Henige doubled and singled for the Great Danes and Snow doubled.
Meghan Royle joined Derrick and Carlson on the all-tournament team for the Black Bears.
Derrick went 8-for-14 with two homers, two doubles and six runs batted in; Carlson had seven hits and scored four times and Royle rapped four hits and drove in six runs.