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Panthers knocked out of LEC Tournament

DANBURY, Conn. - Junior Jessie Becher (South Paris, Maine) doubled home the game-winning run in the seventh inning Saturday to give the University of Southern Maine a 3-2 victory over Plymouth State College in the double-elimination Little East Conference Softball Championship Tournament being played at Western Connecticut State University.

The win moves the Huskies, 27-15-1 overall, into the championship round against Western Connecticut. USM needs to beat Western Connecticut twice to win the title and the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. Plymouth State, making its first appearance in the LEC finals, is knocked out of the tournament with a 24-12-2 record.

Becher drove a two-out double into the right-center field gap off PSC freshman RHP Kim Jeffs (Stoughton, Mass.) to score sophomore OF Darci Holland (Buckfield, Maine) from first base with the decisive run. Holland reached when junior Renee Heath (Brunswick, Maine), who opened the inning with a triple, was thrown out at the plate on an attempted squeeze play.

USM took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run by sophomore Sunshine Anders (Richmond, Maine). Becher scored on junior Emily Forbes' (North Berwick, Maine) fielder's choice in the second inning to give USM a 2-0 lead.

The Panthers tied the game with two runs in the fifth. Freshman Sara Madden (Londonderry, N.H.) led off with a walk and freshman Michelle Dubois (Auburn, Maine) followed with a single. After a sacrifice bunt by junior Steph Marsland (Cumberland, R.I.), Madden scored on a throwing error and Dubois came home on sophomore Maria Curran's (Scarborough, Maine) groundout.

Freshman RHP Melissa Henderson (Newburyport, Mass.) picked up her 15th win of the season for USM, scattering four singles and walking two while fanning two. Jeffs, 21-7, allowed eight hits and two walks while striking out seven.

PSC is hoping for an NCAA at-large berth or an ECAC New England invitation when the selections are announced Monday. It would be the Panthers' first post-season berth since 1994.

(Courtesy Southern Maine Sports Information)