STANDISH, Maine - Plymouth State University junior Sammi Romano (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional) doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the sixth inning and senior Courtney MacFarland (Hampstead, N.H.) limited Saint Joseph's College to one run on three hits Wednesday afternoon as the sixth-seeded Panthers upset the third-seeded Monks, 2-1, in the first round of the ECAC Division III New England Softball Tournament.
The Panthers, 23-16 overall, advance to this weekend's double-elimination format at top-seeded and defending champion Brandeis University. PSU will play first on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against second-seeded Keene State College after the Owls knocked off seventh-seeded Salve Regina University Wednesday, 7-3. Saint Joseph's completes its season at 29-14.
Plymouth State got on the board first with a two-out rally in the second inning. Sophomore Laura Kaplan (Franklin, N.H.) doubled to left field and came home on an RBI single by freshman Amy Green (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane). The Monks answered in the last of the fourth when freshman Samantha Gray (Yarmouth, Maine) reached base on a fielder's choice and came around to score on a clutch two-out RBI double to center by freshman Ashley Geel (St. George, Maine).
The Panthers plated the eventual winning run in the sixth when sophomore Melissa Caiazzo (Portland, Maine/Deering) got on base on an infield hit, and Romano knocked her in with a double to right center field. Caiazzo and Romano each had two hits in the game for PSU.
MacFarland did the rest, retiring the final 10 batters she faced after the Monks scored in the fourth inning. She ended up with seven strikeouts in the complete-game effort, allowing just three hits and two walks and improving her record to 13-8.
Sophomore Kiera Walsh (Benton, Maine) pitched well for SJC, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out five, but suffered the loss to drop to 11-5.
PSU's game against Keene State on Saturday will be the fifth meeting of the season between the two rivals. They split the regular season doubleheader at Keene State on Apr. 14 (PSU won the opener 5-1, KSC took the nightcap 16-1), and they split two games last weekend in the Little East Conference Tournament at Rhode Island College (PSU won a first-round game on Thursday, 2-1, and KSC was the winner in an elimination game on Friday, 8-0).
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