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Panthers sweep pair from WCSU

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Sophomore Kim Jeffs (Stoughton, Mass.) tossed a pair of shutouts Sunday afternoon, leading the Plymouth State College softball team to a sweep of a Little East Conference doubleheader against Western Connecticut State University at D&M Park, 4-0 and 1-0.

The sweep keeps PSC alive for home-field advantage in the opening round of the LEC Tournament, which begins Tuesday. The Panthers improve to 21-6 overall and 7-5 in LEC play, while WCSU, which had won 13 in a row and is ranked #1 in New England, falls to 24-7 overall and 10-4 in the conference. The Colonials had already clinched the LEC regular season title and the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

Jeffs allowed just four singles in blanking the Colonials in the opener, while striking out 11. WCSU collected three hits with one out in the sixth inning, but Jeffs struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

PSC scored its first run in the first inning on an RBI single by senior Adriene Harvey (Nantucket, Mass.). The Panther added two more in the second when junior Kristen Balles (Manchester, N.H.) and senior Steph Marsland (Cumberland, R.I.) singled with one out, and advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Jess Rousselle (Deerfield, N.H.). Junior Maria Curran (Scarborough, Maine) followed with an RBI single to score Balles, and Marsland came home on a double steal.

PSC added an insurance run in the fourth on a WCSU infield error.

Junior Sarah Zaslaw (Stoughton, Mass.), a former high school teammate of Jeffs, allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings for Western and took the loss (14-4).

In the nightcap, Jeffs fanned 10 more Colonials, increasing her NCAA Division III leading total to 243. Jeffs gave up only three hits to improve her record to 18-4 and increase her season shutout total to nine.

The Panthers scored the game-winning run in the top of the seventh inning when Marsland doubled with one out and came home on an RBI single by freshman pinch hitter Ali Otway (Reading, Mass.).

The Colonials got the tying run to second base in the bottom of the seventh, but Jeffs fanned the final two batters to preserve the win.

Plymouth State wraps up the regular season Monday with an LEC make-up twinbill at UMass Boston (3:30 p.m.). A PSC sweep guarantees the Panthers home field advantage in Tuesday's LEC Tournament quarterfinal, while a split or a UMB sweep would send the Panthers on the road on Tuesday.