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PSU knocked out of Little East Conference Softball Tournament

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Sixth-seeded Plymouth State University gave higher-seeded teams tough challenges on Friday, but the Panthers were defeated twice and knocked out of the Little East Conference Softball Tournament at RIC's Dayna A. Bazar Softball Complex.

PSU out-hit top-seeded Rhode Island College in the double-elimination tournament opener, 5-2, but came out on the short end of a 2-0 verdict. The Panthers then faced fifth-seeded University of Southern Maine in the final game of the day, and the Huskies sent PSU home with a 4-2 defeat. RIC moves on in the tournament with a 33-4 record, while USM advances with a 19-21 mark. Plymouth State winds up the season with a 13-20 overall record, a five-game improvement over last year's mark.

Plymouth State had at least one baserunner in all seven innings against RIC and record-setting senior pitcher Nicole Riley (North Providence, R.I.), and put two baserunners on in two of the first three innings, but could not push a run across the plate. Riley finished with 13 strikeouts and posted her 11th shutout of the season, improving her record to a dazzling 23-2.

Freshman Kay LaBrie (Somersworth, N.H.) had two hits for PSU, including a one-out triple in the sixth inning, but she was stranded at third base. Freshman pitcher Kat Roland (Norton, Mass.) kept the Anchorwomen off the board until the fourth inning, when senior Kristyn Alexander (East Wareham, Mass.) led off with a double. Freshman pinch runner Robyn Zemienieski (Old Saybrook, Conn.) advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a wild pitch. RIC added an unearned insurance run in the fifth.

Southern Maine scored three runs on four hits in the first inning of PSU's second game. The Panthers got on the board with an unearned run in the third inning when sophomore Heather Bartolo (Derry, N.H.) singled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Danielle Normand (Rumford, R.I.). PSU added another unearned run in the fifth inning when sophomore Leanne Barry (Auburn, N.H./Pinkerton) walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on an infield error.

Junior Kristina Grondin (Sanford, Maine) did the rest for the Huskies, limiting PSU to four hits and two walks. Plymouth State also lost to Southern Maine by two runs in both regular season games this spring.

Sophomore Rachel Pother (Reading, Mass.) finished as PSU's leading hitter with a .297 batting average. Bartolo finished with a .284 average and Normand checked in at .283. Everyone is expected to return next season as there are no seniors on this year's Panther squad.

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