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THE LEAD: The Emmanuel College softball team picked up two more victories Saturday afternoon in Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament play to advance to Championship Sunday action for the second time in three seasons. The Saints earned a 9-5 win over No. 5 Albertus Magnus before stopping No. 3 Simmons, 6-3 to move on to Sunday's loser's bracket Championship game against No. 1 seeded Suffolk University at 10:00 AM.

GM 1 vs. Albertus Magnus

EAST BOSTON – A grand slam by Albertus Magnus' Brianna Whitfield in the fifth kept the game going, cutting Emmanuel's lead in half, but the fifth-seeded Falcons could not catch up to the seventh-seeded Saints, who avoided elimination with a 9-5 victory in the GNAC Tournament outing Saturday afternoon at East Boston Memorial Park.

Emmanuel, who will play Simmons tonight at 5:30 p.m. for a place on Championship Sunday, improved to 24-17 on the season with the upset over Albertus, who ended its season, 23-17. 

Olivia Burgos literally wasted no time to put Emmanuel on the scoreboard as the Saints lead-off hitter sent a solo over the centerfield fence to open the game.

An inning later a two RBI double by Casey Sheehan s a four-run stanza as two unearned runs came across to stretch the Saints lead to five. The scoring frenzy continued in the home half of the fifth with Emmanuel crossing home three more times to turn its advantage into 8-0. 

For the first time in the outing, Albertus Magnus stopped the Saints thanks to back-to-back forced plays at the plate with the bases loaded. The Falcons looked to erase the eight-run rule and did so in grand slam fashion. After the Saints made the forced play at the play with the bags juiced, Whitfield went yard to clear the bases and cut the margin in half, 8-4. Emmanuel kept Albertus Magnus there, however, to remain in front by four.

The Falcons comeback continued in the top of the sixth as Laura Anderson led off the frame with a solo shot to left center.  

Emmanuel kept them there the remainder of the way and took advance of an error by the Falcons' shortstop Whitfield to regain a 9-5 cushion in the bottom of the sixth.

The Saints were led by Burgos and Sheehan at the dish. Burgos knocked a pair of hits with two RBI and two runs, while Sheehan contributed three RBI on two hits to go with one run scored. Burgos homered, while Sheehan rocked a double.

For the Falcons, Whitfield anchored the offense with a two-hit, four-RBI, one-run outing, which featured a grand slam. Kristen Cunning recorded a pair of hits and one run as well.

Megan Kieselback dealt a complete-game for Emmanuel after giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Albertus Magnus' starter Laura Anderson suffered the setback after giving up five runs, one earned, on two hits with one strikeout. Fallon Speers  (1.0 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Megan Ferraro (3.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 BB) also took the rubber for the Falcons.

GM 2 vs Simmons

EAST BOSTON, Mass. – The number seven seed Emmanuel College softball team took advantage of three errors and scored four unearned runs, en-route to a 6-3 victory over number three seed Simmons College in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals this evening at Memorial Park in East Boston, Mass. The Saints have won 13 of their last 15 games and improve to 25-17 on the season and will face top-seeded Suffolk University tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in an elimination game at Memorial Park. The winner will face undefeated number two seed Johnson & Wales University at 12:30 p.m. The Sharks finish their season at 22-19 for their highest win total since 2014.

First year second base Meaghan Price (Corning, N.Y.) and junior catcher Casey Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) each went 1-3 with two runs batted in for Emmanuel, while sophomore right fielder Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda (South Boston, Mass.) was 1-3 with a home run.

First year first base Hailey Yabroudy (Amherst, N.H.) went 1-2 with a double, a run batted in and a walk to lead Simmons, while sophomore center fielder Molly Hennessey (Charlton, Mass.) and sophomore Alex Soqui (Acushnet, Mass.) each went 1-3 with a run scored.

The Saints manufactured a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead. Junior starting pitcher Olivia Burgos (Newington, Conn.) singled to left and sophomore center fielder Sarah Hoisl (West Hartford, Conn.) was hit by a two-strike pitch with both advancing into scoring position on a passed ball. Sheehan hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Burgos and Hoisl later scored during a deliberate run down play between first and second to make it 2-0.

Emmanuel added two more runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead with the benefit of an error and a passed ball. Sheehan stroked a one-out single up the middle and junior first base Ashley Skey (Brookline, N.H.) followed with a walk. The next two Saints struck out, but the third strike on the would-be third out was not handled, allowing junior shortstop Audrey Esakoff (Ventura, Calif.) to reach and load the bases. Price took advantage of Emmanuel's new life and roped a single to left field to plate Sheehan and Skey for a 4-0 margin.

The Sharks answered with three runs in the top of the fourth to make it a one-run game. Hennessey rapped a leadoff single up the middle and sophomore third base Dom Ortiz (Lawrence, Mass.) reached when she was hit by a pitch. Soqui followed with a single to left that got by the left fielder and resulted in Hennessey and first year pinch-runner Danielle Carson (Ashland, Mass.) scoring to cut the deficit to 4-2. Yabroudy followed with a double to bring home Soqui and pull Simmons to within a run. First year Mikaela Montemagni (Chicopee, Mass.) came on to pitch for the Saints and promptly retired the final three hitters on fly outs for the first of four hitless innings to close out the game.

Emmanuel got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth, including a 250-foot home run blasted over the center field fence off the bat of Ramirez-Tejada to open the frame. The Saints scored the final run of the night when Hoisl reached on an error, advanced to second on the throw, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a Sheehan ground out to give them a 6-3 advantage.

The Sharks were unable to put a rally together in the final three innings as Emmanuel came away with the victory.

Montemagni earned the win to improve to 4-2 after hurling four shutout innings, while fanning five and issuing one walk. Soqui (3-8) suffered the loss for Simmons, allowing five runs (two earned) on six hits and two bases on balls to go with three strikeouts. Senior righty Juliet Nelson (Cumberland, R.I.) closed out her career by throwing the final three innings for the Sharks, yielding one unearned run on a hit, while setting two batters down on strikes. She concluded the season with 14 wins and 27 appearances to finish one short of tying the school record in both categories.

*Releases courtesy of Suffolk University and Simmons College Sports Information