MANCHESTER — Following a wild turn of events, which featured two ties and two lead changes in the last four innings, Northeastern emerged on top in Monday's York-Adams softball showdown.
The Bobcats seized the momentum in the Division II title game, lost it, but grabbed it back in their last at bat to earn a 6-5, eight-inning victory over Dover.
The extra-inning triumph allowed Northeastern to capture the division crown and a spot in the league tournament, which begins Tuesday. It was Northeastern's first softball title since claiming the Division I crown in 1993.
"It was a back-and-forth game with two evenly matched teams," said Bobcats' head coach Dave Marsh, whose team will take on Division III champion Kennard-Dale in the York-Adams Tournament semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday at New Oxford.
Northeastern, locked in a 1-1 tie after 4 1/2 innings, struck for three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Nicole Stone delivered the big blow, a bases-loaded double to left-center field that scored all three runners.
"I didn't realize the bases were loaded," Stone said. "I normally hit for power, so when it (the ball) went off the sweet spot, I could tell it was a hit. The fact that it was a gap shot to center field just made it better."
Dover, though, refused to go away and rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to forge a 4-4 tie. The Eagles were down to their last out when Alyssa Bowlsbey delivered a clutch two-run single.
Dover then took a 5-4 lead in the eighth, but the Eagles suffered a huge blow when their starting pitcher, Taylor Lamparter, who also had three hits, went down with an injury. Lamparter, who had reached base on a single, came racing around third on Cassandra Root's hit, but the Eagles' pitcher was forced to put on the brakes when a strong throw came in from the outfield. In an attempt to get back to third, Lamparter went down and was tagged out. She was carried off the field.
"Taylor sprained her ankle," Dover head coach Terry Choate said. "When she came around third, she hit the edge of the grass, caught her ankle and twisted it. I probably shouldn't have sent her."
Lamparter was unable to return. Eastern, then scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the eighth. Both runs were unearned.
"We just told the kids put the ball in play," Marsh said when asked what he told his players before they batted for what turned out to be the last time. "The key thing for us was not trying to hit the ball over the fence. Just put the ball in play and see what happens."
Stone opened the deciding inning with a single and took second on a passed ball. Following a strikeout, Ciara Coombes singled Stone to third base as Coombes advanced to second on an error. The next hitter lined out, but a throwing error following the catch, on which the ball went out of play, allowed the tying and winning runs to score.
Root led Dover's 12-hit attack with four hits. Bowlsbey added two hits and two RBIs.
Stone, Coombes, Haley Updegraff and Peyton Eckenrode each had two-hit days for Northeastern.
"It was one of those battles today," Choate said. " We're a very inexperienced team, and the younger girls did a great job."
Northeastern finished 7-7 in the division and 11-9 overall. Dover fell to 7-13 and 6-8.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.