Softball: Merrimack Valley loses to ConVal in D-II quarterfinals

  • Emily Kelley prepares for an at-bat during Merrimack Valley’s quarterfinal game against ConVal. The Pride lost 6-4 on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

  • Olivia Seeley takes a moment between pitches during Merrimack Valley’s quarterfinal game against ConVal. The Pride lost 6-4 on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

  • Olivia Lacasse begins to throw a pitch during Merrimack Valley’s quarterfinal game against ConVal. The Pride lost 6-4 on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

 Monitor staff
Published: 6/4/2022 3:18:04 PM

One side team on the diamond was struck with jubilation. There were high-fives, fist bumps, hugs and cheers that last until they left the park.

The other side was awestruck. In a state of disbelief, hurt and the protruding thought of if they had done enough.

So when No. 2 Merrimack Valley (14-3) clung to the fence that protected its dugout with the hurt of seeing its season end in a 6-4 loss to No. 7 ConVal (12-6) on Saturday in the Division II quarterfinals, it’s a pain that goes with making the playoffs and exiting sooner than expected.

The Pride had a tough start to their first playoff game of the season. ConVal was fresh off an 8-2 win over Sanborn in the preliminary round and its potent offense carried into Penacook. The Cougars quickly scored three runs in the top of the first inning behind an RBI single from Kendall Sullivan and then a two-run double by Mackenzie Gauthier.

MV’s first rally attempt happened in the second inning as junior outfield Emily Kelley sent Olivia Seeley home on a hit into shallow right field. Kelley’s hit counted as a double but she took third after an errant throw to the infield, and it paid dividends when she took home as well on a wild pitch and cut the Cougars' lead to one.

But seemingly for every call the Pride had, the Cougars had a response. They scored two runs in the top of the third and held a 5-2 lead until the bottom of the fifth when MV started its second rally.

Kelley generated another unearned run for the Pride and junior third baseman KaleeKeyser hit an RBI double that brought the game back within one at 5-4. MV’s offensive success in the fifth carried into defensive smarts in the top of the sixth with solid tracking on pop-flies in the bright afternoon sun, including a ball that was considered out of bounds but still caught by Macy Gordon. 

Those key moments weren’t sustained, however. ConVal handed the Pride their third out of the sixth inning when they had two runners stranded on base. It then picked up an insurance run in the top of the seventh and in the bottom retired the first two MV batters, walked the third and an infield pop-fly solidified its unfortunate conclusion.

“We battled and battled, but just couldn’t find the holes today,” MV coach Kevin O’Brien said. “There isn’t much separation between teams this time of year and we saw that today.”

This is the first season since 2018 where the Pride failed to make it out of the quarterfinal round. A run of final four appearances comes to an end, but there is a glaring silver lining for MV as it returns all but three of its current players for next season.

The Cougars will play No. 3 John Stark (15-2) on Wednesday on Chase Field at Plymouth State in the Division II semifinal.

The first pitch is expected at 5 p.m.


Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.



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