BRUNSWICK, Maine -- The Bates softball team kept its playoff hopes alive to the final day of the regular season on Saturday, defeating Bowdoin 4-2 in the opening game of the teams' three-game NESCAC East Division series.
Bates (18-10, 5-5 NESCAC East) needs to sweep Bowdoin (26-12, 6-4) in order to supplant the Polar Bears as the second-place team in the division (the top two teams from the East and West divisions comprise the field for the NESCAC Softball Championship).
The teams wrap up the regular season with a doubleheader at Bates' Lafayette Street Field on Sunday, with Game 1 scheduled for noon (Live Stats / Audio). The Bobcats' nine-member graduating Class of 2012 will be recognized in their final home appearance beginning at 11:45am.
Bates senior starting pitcher Kristen Finn (Winthrop, Mass.) and Bowdoin starter Melissa DellaTorre swapped scoreless inning for scoreless inning through three, before the Bobcats got on the scoreboard with two runs in the fourth. Senior Kelly McManus (Plymouth, N.H.) reached on an error to lead off. Senior Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.) then walked, and ball four went back to the backstop, putting runners at second and third. Senior Leah Maciejewski (Tewksbury, Mass.) grounded out to score McManus, before sophomore Alayna Garbarino (Reading, Mass.) delivered a single to center field to score Dobish. Junior Mary Lewis (Gardiner, Maine) also singled, but the rally was stopped when senior Kiely Webster (Bethesda, Md.) lined into a double play.
Bowdoin got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Finn walked leadoff hitter Toni DaCampo, who scored on a hit by Casey Correa, a groundout by Hanna Wurgaft and an RBI single by Courtney Colantuno.
Bates put up two more runs in the top of the fifth for a 4-1 lead. Senior Libby King (South Portland, Maine) drew a leadoff walk, and quickly moved to third when Bowdoin botched a sacrifice bunt attempt by senior Courtney Talcott (Millbury, Mass.), who made it safely to second base on the play. Senior Karen Ullmann (Ramsey, N.J.) lined out to right field, scoring King from third, and Talcott came home when Dobish reached on Bowdoin's second error of the inning, and third of the game.
Bowdoin closed the gap to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Hillary Smyth led off with a double and scored on Gen Barlow's single through the left side, but Finn left Barlow stranded, inducing two popouts to end the threat to Bates' lead.
Finn held the Polar Bears scoreless over the final two innings, despite a pair of singles in the sixth inning. A 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh inning preserved the win, moving the senior to 8-8 on the season. Finn allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out two batters.
Bowdoin's DellaTorre dropped to 14-7, also going all seven innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and 10 walks.
With Saturday's victory, Bates has matched the program record for wins in a season, tying with the 18-13 team of 2002.