MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally-ranked and No. 1 seeded Saint Anselm College softball team defeated the fifth-seeded Penmen from Southern New Hampshire University, 5-0, in game three of the NCAA Division II East 1 Regional Tournament on Friday morning at the South Athletic Fields.
The Hawks, who entered the game ranked No. 20 in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II Top 25 poll and have now won 14 games in a row, improving to 39-8 on the year. The Penmen, who defeated Georgian Court University in the fifth game of the regional to advance to the final day, ended the day 38-14. The cross-town rivals will matchup at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 in the East 1 Regional final.
Senior Jordan O'Connor (New Fairfield, Conn.) now holds the all-time record for games played with 174 over her four-year career, passing Allison Pearson '03.
Saint Anselm pushed across five runs in the sixth inning, keyed by a three-run home run by freshman Kylie Fitzpatrick, (Danville, N.H.) her first-career long ball, to extend the Hawks' lead to 5-0 in the inning.
Both teams had early chances to strike first. Saint Anselm, which was the visiting team in the contest, started the first inning with junior Shannon Colson(Rochester, N.H.) reaching on an error. She moved to second before sophomore Lauren Washburn (Carmichael, Calif.) walked. Colson moved to third after tagging up on a foul out, but Penmen starter Olivia Strasser got out of the jam with a ground out.
Southern New Hampshire also had a chance in the bottom of the inning with a single and a hit batter to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, followed by another hit batter to load the bases with just one out. However, junior Morgan Perry (Bethany, Conn.) got a ground out to force the runner out at the plate, before a ground out to third ended the inning.
The Penmen also put runners on first and second in the third inning, but were unable to take advantage, leaving a pair of runners on base. Both pitchers had a smooth fourth and fifth inning, each allowing just a base runner to first, before the Hawks struck for five runs in the sixth inning.
Junior Maggie Murphy (Scarborough, Maine) hit a sharp single to center, before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Washburn. O'Connor and junior Erin Thompson (Newton, N.H.) walked to load the bases with just one out in the frame. Sophomore Kat Stackrow (Wynantskill, N.Y) drove in two runs with a single between first and second, setting the stage for Fitzpatrick. The freshman followed up with a deep drive to center field that cleared the fence to put Saint Anselm ahead 5-0. Maddy Barone came in relief and got a strike out and a ground out to end the inning.
Perry ran into a little trouble in the bottom of the inning, giving up a pair of walks with one out. However, a ground ball to Washburn ended the inning, as she tagged third before firing a throw to first for the inning-ending double play.
The Penmen put runners on first and second again in the bottom of the seventh with singles by Shay Sauvageau and Emily Critch. However, Perry got a foul out to left field and a pop up to the short stop to end the game.
Perry earned her 24th win of the season, 21st complete game and eighth shutout of the year with six strikeouts. She gave up six hits and walked three batters. Strasser took the loss for Southern New Hampshire, giving up five runs on four this and four walks. The Penmen stranded 10 runners on base.