Keene State holds off Plymouth State Softball

Late Panther rallies fall short; Jackson sets record

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Haley Chandler went 3-for-4 in both ends of a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon as Keene State College held off Plymouth State University to sweep the Little East Conference twin bill at D&M Park, 4-3 and 10-8.

            The Owls plated two runs in the top of the seventh inning of the opener, breaking a 2-2 tie and then holding on for a 4-3 victory.  KSC led the nightcap 8-0 after three innings but had to withstand a big PSU rally as the Panthers scored eight runs in the final three innings.  The Panthers scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and had the tying runs on base and the winning run at the plate, but KSC got out of the jam to complete the sweep.

            Keene State has won four in a row to improve to 20-7-1 overall and 7-3 in the Little East, good for third place, while PSU lost two in a row for the first time in more than three weeks and fell to the .500 mark at 17-17 overall and 6-6 in the LEC, good for fourth place.

            PSU took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the opener on RBI singles by sophomore Jackie Digman and freshman Cynthia Barata.  Chandler delivered RBI singles for the Owls in the second and fourth innings to knot the score at 2-2.

            Senior Katie Bradford led off the seventh inning with a double for KSC, and scored on a clutch two-out single by junior Nicole Dupuis.  A pinch-runner went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Panther outfield error to give the Owls an insurance run. Sophomore Bekah Jackson doubled and scored for PSU in the bottom of the seventh, but Keene State held on for the win.

            Sophomore Ellissa Coburn joined Chandler with three hits for the Owls.  Freshman Julia Nolan earned the win in relief for KSC, pitching four innings and allowing just one run on three hits and a walk, striking out two.

            Jackson and Digman had two hits in the opener to lead PSU.  Jackson also scored two runs, giving her 38 runs scored on the season, which breaks the Panther single-season mark of 36 she previously shared with Kristen Hodsdon (1994).

            Keene State jumped on top in the nightcap with a two-run first inning, thanks to RBI hits by Samantha Nitso and Dupuis.  The Owls exploded for five runs in the second inning, with a two-run single by Bradford and RBI singles by senior Laura Chandler and Dupuis doing the majority of the damage.  KSC extended the lead to 8-0 in the third when junior Jessica Fiorenza doubled and scored on a hit by Bradford.

            Trailing 8-0 and down to their last out in the fifth inning, freshman Kristina Bove drew a two-out walk and junior Calli DeGrace delivered an RBI double.  The Panthers then rallied for five runs in the sixth inning, with senior Allie Luisi, sophomore Taylor Mancini and Bove collecting RBI hits and two runs scoring on Owl miscues.

            Leading 8-6, the Owls added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh on a two-run homer by Nitso, the first of the season for the team's leading hitter. The runs came in handy when PSU answered with two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on RBI singles by Luisi and Barata, but KSC senior Samantha Pratt got the final two outs to preserve the victory, earning her sixth save.

            Haley Chandler and Dupuis had three hits each for the Owls, while Bradford, Nitso, Laura Chandler and sophomore Molly Dussault had two hits each.  Luisi, Mancini and sophomore Sam Hebert had two hits each for PSU.

            PSU plays a non-conference doubleheader Wednesday at D&M Park against Middlebury College.  The games will be a homecoming for Middlebury senior Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.), who played at Plymouth Regional High School.

-- 30 --