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Keene State knocks PSU out of LEC Softball Tourney

            WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Fourth-seeded Keene State College knocked sixth-seeded Plymouth State University out of the Little East Conference Softball Tournament Friday evening with a 10-4 victory in an elimination game at Eastern Connecticut State University's Spector Field.

            The Owls, 24-11, who were coming off a tough 5-3 loss to Rhode Island College in the previous game, rebounded to stay alive with the win over the Panthers and will play again on Saturday against a team to be determined.  PSU, playing its first game of the day after splitting two games on Thursday, drops to 25-14 and will hope for an ECAC Tournament berth next week.

             Both teams scored three runs in the first inning, and Keene State pulled back ahead with a run in the top of the second.  The Owls pulled away with two runs in the fourth inning and one in the fifth, and poured it on with three more in the seventh.  PSU didn't go down without a fight, managing one last run in the bottom of the seventh.

            Freshman Melissa Caiazzo (Portland, Maine) had two hits for the Panthers, including a two-run single that capped PSU's three-run rally in the first inning.  Junior Leanne Barry (Auburn, N.H.) also had two hits, including an RBI double in the seventh inning, and freshman Kortney Nedeau (Kennebunk, Maine) had a single and a double and scored a run.

            Senior Jessica Starkey (Keene, N.H.) went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI to lead the Owls' 14-hit attack.  Juniors Katie Allenson (Clifton Park, N.Y.) and Allie D'Amato (Bristol, Conn.) and senior Melissa Scata (Medway, Mass.) also had two hits apiece.

            Senior Ashley Nicholson (Swanzey, N.H.) improved her record to 14-5 with a strong pitching effort for Keene State.  She went the distance and allowed two earned runs on six hits and no walks while striking out four. 

            PSU sophomore Kat Roland (Norton, Mass.), who pitched over 11 innings in PSU's two tournament games on Friday, started and grueled it out until the fifth inning, when junior Courtney MacFarland (Hampstead, N.H.) came on to finish it out.

            The 25 wins for PSU this spring is the second-most in a season in school history, and marks a 12-game improvement over last year. 

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