Panthers to host LEC Tournament as top seed next week
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Caitlyn Miller (Lee, N.H.) struck out six while not allowing an earned run as Plymouth State University topped the University of Southern Maine, 3-2, in the first game of a Little East Conference (LEC) doubleheader at D&M Park on Tuesday afternoon to clinch the LEC regular-season title. Southern Maine returned the favor with a shocking, come-from-behind, 3-2 win in game two.
Following the split the Panthers move to 22-12 and 10-2 in the LEC, while Southern Maine goes to 20-17 and 7-5 in league action.
Plymouth State was one of four teams to tie for the regular-season title last spring and earned the top seed and right to host the LEC tournament for the first time in program history after a series of tiebreakers, but the Panthers are outright champions this year. PSU will host the entirety of the LEC softball championship tournament next week as the number one overall seed.
PSU got an early run in the bottom of the first after some smart base running. Junior Hannah Seidner (Pembroke, N.H.) singled to start the inning, then was sacrificed to second. Classmate Ashley Deyo (Dover, N.H.) reached on an infield single to shortstop, moving Seidner to third. Deyo took a wide turn at first, drawing a throw from the Huskies' infielder and got in a brief rundown while Seidner scampered home to put the Panthers ahead 1-0.
Southern Maine answered with a pair of unearned runs in the next half inning. Two of the first three batters reached on Miller's only two walks of the game. After a fielder's choice left runners on the corners with two away, freshman Hannah Kenney (Oxford, Maine) stole second. The throw down was off target, allowing junior Brooke Cross (Saco, Maine) to score and Kenney took off for third. The throw to third went over the head of the Panthers' third baseman, allowing Kenney to cross the plate and the Huskies were up 2-1.
PSU rallied to retake the lead in the third. Seidner singled, then stole second –sneaking just under the tag – with one out. A ground ball advanced her to third and she came home on a single to left center field by senior Abrie Davis (Amherst, N.H.) to tie the game. Junior Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) followed with a single to right and classmate Mel Goss (Templeton, Mass.) drove in a run with a base hit to left center as pinch runner Autumn Beyor (Highgate, Vt.) beat the throw home.
Junior Lindsey Hall (Midlothian, Va.) made a nice running catch in the gap in left center to rob senior Courtney Davis (Woburn, Mass.) of extra bases in the top of the fourth. Davis returned the favor in the fifth, leaping to snag a sharp line drive off the bat of Seidner that was headed down the third base line.
Davis cracked a double just beyond the reach of the Huskies' left fielder to start the bottom of the sixth, but Kelly got the next three batters to keep it a one-run game.
Sophomore Caitlyn Miller (Lee, N.H.) used a dominant top of the seventh to wrap up the win, striking out the first two batters before inducing a soft comebacker for the final out.
Miller (12-6) pitched her 12th complete game, allowing just three singles and the two walks. After surrendering the two unearned runs in the second, she retired 15 of the final 17 batters she faced. Seidner went 2-for-3 and scored twice. Davis and Hall also had two-hit games.
Senior Amber Kelly (Berwick, Maine) fell to 9-9 with the loss. She gave up nine hits but allowed just the three runs over her six innings of work.
Senior Allison Moylan (Methuen, Mass.) pitched around a pair of PSU errors in the top of the first, but the Huskies struck with a run in the third. Sophomore Erin Martin (Biddeford, Maine) opened the inning with a triple to right field and came home when junior Brittany Plowman (Scarborough, Maine) lifted a soft liner just out of reach of the PSU shortstop. Plowman stole second and moved up to third on a ground out, but Moylan got a strikeout and ground ball to limit the Huskies to just one run.
Plymouth took advantage of a defensive miscue in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. With two outs, Seidner reached on a two-base error and sophomore Nora Butler (Tewksbury, N.H.) poked a single to center to even the score at 1-1.
Moylan and USM starter Alexis Brown (Malden, Mass.) cruised through the fourth and fifth innings as neither team was able to put a runner on base.
PSU rallied with a run in the bottom of the sixth to pull ahead. Seidner started the rally with a walk, before being bunted to second. Deyo ripped a hard single to left field, then stole second to put runners on second and third with just one out. A wild pitch allowed Seidner to score, but the Panthers were unable to bring home an insurance run as the next two batters popped out to second.
It looked like Plymouth would earn the sweep when two of the first three batters were retired in the top of the seventh, but sophomore Kayleigh Bohan (Bedford, N.H.) pushed a seeing-eye single through the right side to put runners on the corners with two away. Pinch runner Kathleen Rattazzi (Tuxedo, N.Y.) stole second and Martin followed with a two-run single to right to put the Huskies ahead, 3-2.
Senior Taylor Wood (Londonderry, N.H.) singled with one out in the bottom of the inning but the Panthers were unable get the tying run home.
Moylan (4-6) pitched a strong game giving up just five hits, but ended up the tough-luck loser. Butler, Deyo and Wood had the three PSU singles.
Brown (8-2) allowed two runs, one earned, in her complete game win. She struck out three, while allowing just five baserunners. Martin finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
Plymouth State travels to Thomas College on Thursday (Apr. 26) for a pair of non-conference games before returning home for a Senior Day doubleheader with LEC foe Western Connecticut State University on Saturday (Apr. 28). Those games are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
The Huskies wrap up the regular season by hosting the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in an LEC twin bill on Saturday. The first game begins at 1:00 p.m.
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