Panthers advance with four-run seventh as Miller cruises
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Caitlyn Miller (Lee, N.H.) tossed her second complete game of the day and the Plymouth State University offense broke through for four runs in the top of the seventh inning as the top-seeded Panthers knocked off second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University, 4-0, in a Little East Conference (LEC) softball tournament elimination game at D&M Park on Thursday evening.
Miller, who surrendered just one run in a complete game loss in the opening game of the tournament, allowed just five hits in to the Warriors to earn the shutout.
Sophomore Nora Butler (Tewksbury, Mass.) kicked off the top of the seventh with a single to left and moved up on a sacrifice bunt. Classmate Jen Landers (Berlin, N.H.) following with a booming double to right center to score the game's first run. Sophomore Haley Birch (Salem, Conn.) reached with a well-placed bloop and stole second to put two runners in scoring position with two away. Junior Hannah Seidner (Pembroke, N.H.) lifted a popup to shallow left center and the Warriors' shortstop had the ball pop out of her glove allowing two more runs to score. Junior Ashley Deyo (Dover, N.H.) kept the rally going with an infield hit in the shortstop hole, and a wild throw allowed Seidner to score to make it 4-0.
Given a lead Miller breezed through the bottom of the inning to preserve the win.
An excellent defensive play by Deyo kept the game scoreless in the sixth. With two down and a runner on first, sophomore Sabrina LeMere pulled a ball toward the first base hole. Deyo made a diving stop, and her throw from the ground just beat LeMere to the base for the third out.
Eastern Connecticut had a chance to push a run across in the bottom of the third. With a runner on second and two down freshman Morgan Bolduk (Vernon, Conn.) reached on a hard single to left field. The ball was hit too hard for the runner to score from second, and Landers made a strong play on a hard grounder to third to end the inning.
ECSU got a one-out double in the fifth and the runner moved to third on a groundout, but Miller induced a slow roller up the first base line to escape unscathed.
Plymouth's best chance to break through came in the top of the third. With two down a dropped fly ball, infield single and walk loaded the bases. Deyo hit a ball hard back up the middle but Bolduk fielded cleanly to get the final out of the inning.
Miller (14-7) struck out three without allowing a walk. Birch and senior Abrie Davis (Amherst, N.H.) each had two hits with Landers recording the lone RBI.
Bolduk (10-11) surrendered eight hits and four runs, though only one was earned. She struck out five. Bolduk had two of the Warriors' five hits, with sophomore Megan Hodgdon also recording a two-hit game.
The Panthers (24-14) move on to play at 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Their opponent is dependent upon the outcome of the 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. games. Eastern Connecticut (17-22) was eliminated after dropping its second straight tournament game. The Warriors were nipped by UMass Dartmouth, 1-0, in Game 2.
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