PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The University of Southern Maine spoiled the home opener for the Plymouth State University softball team on Tuesday, defeating the Panthers in both ends of the Little East Conference doubleheader at D&M Park, 5-3 and 9-7.
The Huskies rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the first game, scoring two runs in the sixth inning to tie it and adding two runs in the seventh to win it. USM pulled ahead 7-3 in the nightcap with a four-run fourth inning but had to hold on in the bottom of the seventh as PSU scored three runs in the inning and brought the tying run to the plate. Southern Maine held on for the win to improve to 16-16 overall and 7-5 in the Little East, while PSU fell to 11-14 overall and 3-5 in conference play.
USM got on the board in the second inning of the opener when junior Kristina Grondin (Sanford, Maine) led off with her fourth home run of the season. PSU took the lead in the bottom of the inning when sophomore Rachel Pothier (Reading, Mass.) singled and freshman Kay LaBrie (Somersworth, N.H.) cracked her first homer of the season. The Panthers added another run in the third when freshman Jenna George (Cumberland, R.I.) singled, was sacrificed to second and scored on a double by sophomore Heather Bartolo (Derry, N.H.).
The Huskies rallied to tie with two runs in the sixth inning. Sophomore Katie Martell (Wilmington, Mass.) smacked a one-out double and classmate Anita Dixon (Limington, Maine) followed with a single. Grondin knocked in Martell with a single, and Dixon came home on an infield grounder. The Huskies added two more in the seventh when junior Dawn Ross (Gray, Maine) singed and went to third on a double by senior Christen Lachapelle (Farmingdale, Maine). Ross scored on a sacrifice fly by Martell, and Lachapelle came around on an RBI single by Dixon. The comeback made a winner out of Grondin, who improved to 12-6.
The nightcap was scoreless through three innings, but then both teams broke out. USM scored three times in the fourth inning, two coming home on sophomore Sabrina Sevigny's (Sanford, Maine) first home run of the season. The Panthers answered in the bottom of the third when sophomore Leanne Barry (Auburn, N.H./Pinkerton) drew a bases loaded walk and Bartolo followed with a two-run single. PSU missed a chance to add to its lead when it stranded runners at second and third.
Southern Maine exploded for four runs in the fifth inning as Dixon hit a two-run double, Grondin added an RBI single, and Martell knocked in another run. The Huskies would add a pair of unearned runs in the seventh inning which would end up as the difference in the game.
PSU rallied in the last of the seventh with four straight hits to open the inning, a double by Bartolo and singles by junior Danielle Normand (Rumford, R.I.) and freshmen Sammi Romano (Kingston, N.H.) and Becca DiPietro (Portsmouth, R.I.). LaBrie delivered a two-run single to bring the tying run to the plate, but USM got out of the jam and held on for the win.
PSU's make-up games at Keene State have been moved from Friday to Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at the Owl Sports Complex. The Panthers will wrap up the regular season with LEC doubleheaders Saturday at UMass Boston and Sunday at home against Western Connecticut (12:00 p.m.)
USM plays non-conference games Thursday at Bridgewater State (3:30 p.m.) and returns home to host Keene State on Saturday (1:00 p.m.) to wrap up LEC play for the season.
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