DANBURY, Conn. - Plymouth State College was eliminated from the Little East Conference Softball Tournament in the most heartbreaking of ways Saturday, dropping a pair of 1-0, 10-inning games to top-seeded Western Connecticut State University and fifth-seeded Keene State College.
The second-seeded Panthers gave a valiant effort, but managed only three hits in 20 innings, two against WCSU and one against KSC. PSC wraps up the weekend at 25-8 overall, setting a new school record for victories in a season, and awaits word on a possible NCAA At-Large or ECAC New England Tournament bid.
Both games Saturday were won with the tiebreaker rule in effect, which starts each half inning after the ninth with a runner at second base. In PSC's first game, Western Connecticut junior Kate Wardlow (Old Bridge, N.Y.) singled home the game-winning run from second base with one out in the 10th, and WCSU held the Panthers off in the bottom of the 10th. In the next game, KSC sacrificed the runner from second to third in the bottom of the 10th, and she came home with the winning run on a PSC infielder's error.
Sophomore Kim Jeffs (Stoughton, Mass.) was a workhorse for PSC, pitching a remarkable 19.1 innings and allowing only six hits, no walks and no earned runs while striking out 29. She took the loss against Western despite giving up only two hits and fanning 16, and was handed the loss against Keene despite surrendering only four hits while whiffing 13. Jeffs is now 22-6 overall and upped her NCAA Division III leading strikeout total to 310 in 196.2 innings.
Jeffs was matched pitch for pitch, though, by WCSU junior Sarah Zaslaw (Stoughton, Mass.) and Keene State sophomore Meghan McLoughlin (Brattleboro, Vt.). Zaslaw earned the win (16-4) after giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out 16, and McLoughlin picked up the win (5-3) with a 10-inning, one-hit, no-walk, 13-strikeout effort.
Keene State, 21-12, and Western Connecticut, 24-7, will meet in a championship round game later Saturday. If WCSU wins, the Colonials will capture the conference title and earn the LEC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. If Keene State wins, there will be a championship game Sunday at 12 noon.