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No keeping up with Jones, who sends Coe-Brown past Pembroke, 2-1

  • Pembroke's Madison Pellerin (right) walks away from home plate as Coe-Brown players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

    Pembroke's Madison Pellerin (right) walks away from home plate as Coe-Brown players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Pembroke's Brianna Whitcomb reaches for the ball while trying to tag Coe-Brown's Catherine Langdon the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

    Pembroke's Brianna Whitcomb reaches for the ball while trying to tag Coe-Brown's Catherine Langdon the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • John Stark players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

    John Stark players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Pembroke's Madison Pellerin (right) walks away from home plate as Coe-Brown players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

    Pembroke's Madison Pellerin (right) walks away from home plate as Coe-Brown players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • John Stark's Jocelyn Dimond reaches up for a catch in the game against ConVal in the Division IV softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

    John Stark's Jocelyn Dimond reaches up for a catch in the game against ConVal in the Division IV softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Pembroke's Madison Pellerin (right) walks away from home plate as Coe-Brown players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
  • Pembroke's Brianna Whitcomb reaches for the ball while trying to tag Coe-Brown's Catherine Langdon the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
  • John Stark players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
  • Pembroke's Madison Pellerin (right) walks away from home plate as Coe-Brown players pile on each other in celebration following the Division II softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
  • John Stark's Jocelyn Dimond reaches up for a catch in the game against ConVal in the Division IV softball semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

MANCHESTER – The field was meant to be a neutral site for the Division II softball semifinals. Not so for Coe-Brown’s Lauren Jones.

The Bears’ four-year starter made herself right at home on the same Southern New Hampshire University field where she’ll play her home games next year. Jones drove in both Coe-Brown runs – including the game-winner in walk-off fashion – in last night’s 2-1 victory over No. 12 Pembroke, sending the top-ranked Bears into Saturday’s championship against No. 7 John Stark.

“The right person at the right time,” Coe-Brown Coach Tim Tenasco said of Jones. “I said, ‘Hey, you’re on the stage, let’s get it done, I know you can do it.’ She’s clutch, she really is. She’s been clutch for four years for us.”

During the regular season, Coe-Brown had won a pair of relatively high-scoring affairs against Pembroke, 10-6 and 6-3. But yesterday, both pitchers – Hannah Seidner for Pembroke and Kianna Daudelin for Coe-Brown – had other ideas. So the teams entered the sixth inning tied 1-1.

Back-to-back hits by Maddy Pellerin and Marissa Kibbee put Pembroke runners on first and second with just one out, but Hannah Mitchell hit a scorcher to second where – who else? – Jones snared it and fired to first for the double play to end the threat. Daudelin hit a leadoff single for Coe-Brown in the bottom of the sixth, but was stranded. In the top of the seventh, Meghan Smith drew a one-out walk, but Pembroke couldn’t advance her, leading to the decisive bottom of the seventh.

Caitlin Foley reached on an infield error to lead off for the Bears, then Seidner coaxed a pop foul to the catcher for the first out. Emily Therrien then reached on another infield error, and both runners moved up as the ball ricochetted into center field, bringing Jones to the plate.

“I gotta get it down,” Jones said of her approach. “Gotta get one run in. I mean, after four years of practicing with this team, it seems like a pretty easy thing to do, but then there’s all the pressure and everything. But it was good seeing how excited everyone was.”

Jones worked the count to 2-2, fouled off one pitch, then lined a single up the middle. As she rounded first, she glanced back at the plate to see her teammates mobbing Foley at home.

“I was running and then everyone ran behind home plate and I was like, ‘what do I do now?’ ” Jones laughed.

The win puts Coe-Brown (17-2) back in the title game for the second straight year – the Bears finished runner-up to Con-Val last year – and the fifth time in seven years. Pembroke (10-10) was looking for its first trip to the championship, and in the early going, it looked like the Cinderella Spartans might just make it there.

Seidner lined a one-out single just beyond the reach of a diving Amanda Riley at shortstop to get Pembroke going in the first, and she reached second when the Bears couldn’t handle Pellerin’s slap. After a second out, Mitchell lined a single to right to easily score Seidner for a 1-0 lead.

For a team that had lost five straight games in the middle of May, Pembroke was playing like it belonged in the final four.

“The girls played hard,” Pembroke Coach Russ Saucier said. “We had a mid-season collapse, then from that point on we just played good, fundamental softball, got great pitching from Hannah Seidner, and timely hitting.

“I’m very proud of the team and how they played all year. … (During the losing skid) we weren’t even considered being in the final 20.”

But with a 1-0 lead, Seidner went to work. Mixing speeds and pounding the strike zone – she threw first-pitch strikes to the first 12 batters – Seidner retired the first eight batters before issuing a walk. Then Jones broke up the no-hit bid, but Seidner (four hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, no earned runs) got out of the inning and kept the Bears off the scoreboard until the fifth.

Meanwhile, Daudelin (four hits, two walks, three strikeouts, no earned runs) settled in and didn’t allow a hit for the next four innings.

“Before the game, I told everybody this is not going to be a 2-1 game,” Saucier said. “I thought both teams were going to put up at least seven or eight runs the way both were hitting. But you know what, both pitchers just did a phenomenal job.”

“She is our savior,” Jones said of Daudelin. “When we’re struggling with offense like we did today, it’s always good to know we can rely on her to keep our team going with the defense.”

Daudelin held the Spartans at bay long enough for Jones to put the Bears back in it. In the bottom of the fifth, Foley hit a leadoff single to left and moved up a base when Abby Ahern reached on an error. Therrien’s groundout put them both in scoring position, and Jones followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Foley with the tying run.

“I knew what the game was going to be like. It was going to be a very, very tough game. The kids realized that,” Tenasco said. “Seidner did a great job against us to keep us off-balance, really for most of the game. I think tying up the game gave us that little bit of confidence that we needed. These kids, they don’t give up.”

And though both teams threatened after that, it was the Bears – and Jones – who came through in the end.

“I always thought we could do it,” Jones said. “It’s my senior season, so this has been the goal for four years.”

(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or ssmith@cmonitor.com.)

Related

Division II softball tournament

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Semifinals Yesterday John Stark 4, Con-Val 3, 10 inn. Coe-Brown 2, Pembroke 1 Final Saturday At SNHU No. 7 John Stark (14-5) vs. No. 1 Coe-Brown (17-2), 4:30 p.m. …

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