DANBURY, Conn. – Junior Andrea Pydynkowski (Danvers, Mass.) hit a grand slam home run in the second game of the Little East Conference softball doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Westside Field to help Plymouth State University defeat Western Connecticut State University, 8-4, and clinch an LEC play-off berth in the last game of the regular season.
WestConn junior Gina Facchini (Voluntown, Conn.) went 4-for-4 with a double, two home runs and eight RBI as the Colonials took the opener, 11-2, in six innings. Needing a victory in the nightcap to earn a play-off berth, PSU took an early 4-0 lead only to see Western come back with three runs to make it 4-3 after three innings. PSU put the game away in the fifth inning when sophomore Heather Blase (Milford, N.H.) led off with a walk, classmate Allie Luisi (North Kingstown, R.I.) and junior Kortney Nedeau (Kennebunk, Maine) followed with singles to load the bases, and Pyndynkowski’s blast to left gave the Panthers an insurmountable lead.
The Panthers complete the regular season with a 13-20 overall record and tied for sixth with UMass Boston for sixth place in the Little East with a 5-9 mark. PSC wins the tiebreaker over UMB for the final play-off spot base on a regular season victory over LEC runner-up Keene State. WestConn, 16-14 overall and 8-6 in conference play, finishes in a third-place tie with Rhode Island College.
Sixth-seeded PSU will take on top-seeded and regular season champion Eastern Connecticut State University (28-4-1 overall, 13-1 LEC) in the LEC double-elimination tournament opener this Thursday, May 6, at 10:00 a.m. at Keene State College’s Owl Athletic Complex. KSC will host the entire tournament after top-seeded Eastern Conn. was unable to serve as host. Eastern Conn. is the top-ranked team in the NCAA New England region and is also nationally ranked.
Plymouth State managed just three hits in the opener against WestConn, first inning doubles by Blase and Nedeau to score one run and a lead-off double by Luisi, who eventually scored on a Colonial error. Senior pitcher Kara Cullinane (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) did the rest for Western, striking out three in the complete-game effort to improve her record to 10-5.
The story of the first game, though, was Facchini, who had an RBI single in the first inning, a double in the third, a grand slam in the fifth, and a game-ending three-run home run in the sixth inning.
Luisi singled for PSU in the first inning of the nightcap and came around to score on a WestConn error. The Panthers extended the lead to 4-0 when senior Kay LaBrie (Somersworth, N.H.), Blase and Luisi strung together consecutive singles to bring home one run, and following by an intentional walk, two runs came home on a botched infield grounder.
WestConn answered with three runs on four consecutive singles and a ground out to third to open the bottom of the third, but two strikeouts ended the Colonial rally. Pydynkowski’s home run two innings later clinched it for PSU.
PSU starting pitcher Ali Keith (Northfield, N.H.) kept the Colonials off balance most of the game, finishing with seven strikeouts and no walks in a complete-game victory to push her record to 7-9 on the season.
(Courtesy of Western Connecticut Sports Information)
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