PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The pairings are set for the first official Little East Conference softball Tournament, with first round games scheduled for Wednesday (Apr. 29) at the sites of the top four seeds.
Plymouth State College is the fifth seed in the tournament, and will travel to fourth-seeded Keene State Wednesday for the opener, a single-elimination contest. The four first-round winners will travel to the site of the highest remaining seed for a double-elimination tournament Friday and Saturday to determine the LEC champion.
Led by sixth-year coach Robin Payne, PSC placed fifth in the LEC regular season with a 6-8 conference mark, 12-20-1 overall. The Panthers will warm up for the tournament by playing a doubleheader at home Tuesday against Notre Dame College (3:00 p.m.), the regular season finale for PSC.
The other first-round LEC games Wednesday include #8 UMass Boston at #1 Southern Maine, #7 UMass Dartmouth at #2 Western Connecticut, and #6 Rhode Island College at #3 Eastern Connecticut. Western Connecticut won the first LEC softball title in 1996 and Southern Maine captured last year's crown, both based on regular season records.
"I think the top six teams all have a chance," said Payne of this year's tournament. "We've all beaten each other up and everyone is pretty even. I think that Eastern Connecticut and Southern Maine are the teams to beat, if Eastern Connecticut can get past Rhode Island College."
The Panthers and Owls have split their two regular season series the past two years, including a pair in Keene last Tuesday (Apr. 21). PSC won the opener 5-0, but dropped the nightcap, 6-1. A year ago in Plymouth, PSC won the first game, 2-0, but Keene State came back to win the second, 11-5.
"I like playing Keene because it's an intrastate rival as well as a Little East opponent," said Payne. "We've proven to them and to ourselves that we can beat them. We beat their best pitcher last week, knocking her out in the second inning by scoring five runs off her."
The Panthers are led by juniors Jen Arrajj (Lawrence, MA), Amanda Murphy (Collinsville, CT) and Kerry Bickford (Belmont, NH), senior Andrea Scavuzzo (East Walpole, MA) and sophomore Sara Wormwood (Rutland, VT). Arrajj is a top-notch catcher who is batting .364 with a team-high 11doubles and four triples, Bickford is hitting .333 and leading the Panthers in RBI with 28, Scavuzzo is the captain and team leader and has a .288 batting average, and Wormwood is hitting at a .371 clip with a team-leading 39 hits. Murphy is the team's top pitcher, checking in with a 7-9 record and a 3.14 earned run average.
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