Panthers eliminate top-seeded E.Conn after loss to Keene State
MANSFIELD, Conn. – The Plymouth State University softball team erupted for seven runs over the final two innings Friday afternoon and then held on for a 9-7 victory over top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University in game four of the Little East Conference Tournament at the ECSU Softball Stadium.
The outcome eliminates the top-seeded Warriors (25-13) with two losses on the day, while PSU (22-12), which dropped a 5-4 decision to fifth-seeded Keene State College in game two of the tournament, moves on to Saturday's competition. The Panthers will play in the 2:00 p.m. elimination game Saturday against an opponent to be determined.
PSU's game against Keene State was a see-saw battle. The Panthers jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning on an RBI double to left center by senior Bekah Jackson (Nashua, N.H.) and an infield hit by senior Sam Hebert (Manchester, N.H./Memorial). Keene State bounced back in the top of the third inning with a three-run homer by junior Sara Bracken to take its first lead, only to see PSU regain the 4-3 advantage in the bottom of the third on a two-run double to right center by freshman Katie Kennard (Concord, N.H.)
The Owls evened the score in the top of the sixth on a solo home run by freshman Aliza Guerrero and pulled ahead in the seventh on an RBI double to right by Bracken. PSU put a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh, but sophomore Mariah Crisp closed out the complete-game effort for the upset win for Keene State.
The Panthers came back in the 4 o'clock game against Eastern Conn., which was upset in the tourney opener by sixth-seeded Rhode Island College, 6-1. PSU took a 2-0 lead with solo runs in the first and third innings, Hebert driving in a run with a single up the middle in the first inning and Jackson knocking in a run in the third with a single to left.
After Eastern got on the board in the fourth inning on a solo home run by junior Sam Rossetti, PSU exploded with four runs in the top of the sixth to open up a 6-1 lead. Hebert drove in a run with a double to right, Kennard and junior Whitney Roberts (Chocorua, N.H.) added RBI singles and junior Cynthia Barata (New Fairfield, Conn.) brought home the final run of the inning with a fielder's choice.
Eastern got one run back in the bottom of the sixth, but PSU tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh inning to extend the lead to 9-2. Jackson hit her school-record 13th home run of the season and 26th of her career with one out, and Kennard drilled her first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left.
The insurance runs came in handy as Eastern rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, four coming home on a grand slam by senior Jen Tamindzija. But PSU senior Nora Galvin (Windham, N.H.) came out of the bullpen in relief of Roberts to get the final out and preserve the victory and sending the Panthers into Saturday's play.
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