MANCHESTER, N.H. – It may have been a bit unconventional, but the Saint Anselm College softball team picked up to big wins in a unique double-header Tuesday afternoon, knocking off Franklin Pierce 5-3 at Saint Anselm's South Athletic Field before surging past Saint Michael's College 11-7 at Southern New Hampshire University's Penmen Field in the nightcap.
The victories get the Hawks to the 20-win plateau, climbing to 20-7 overall and 11-5 in the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast division. Franklin Pierce fell to 5-17 overall and 5-11 in league play, while Saint Michael's, who also lost earlier in the afternoon to Southern New Hampshire, dropped to 2-24 overall and 2-14 in league play.
Eight different Hawks recorded a hit in each game as Saint Anselm spattered 27 total over the two-game, two-stadium afternoon. Seven different players notched an extra-base hit, led by juniors Emily Crannell (Wilmington, Mass.), Julie LeClair (Taunton, Mass.) and Michaela Criscione (Franklin, Mass.), as well as freshman Megan Murrell (Scarborough, Maine) who all hit homeruns on the afternoon.
Against Franklin Pierce, senior Hannah Byrne (Lynn, Mass.) broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second inning with a double to left center, scoring LeClair and senior Kasey Moran (Medford, Mass.). Three innings later, Crannell broke a 2-2 tie with a solo dinger, capping off a three-run fifth that would make all the difference in the opening game victory.
Senior Tayla Trask (Lincoln, Maine) recorded seven strikeouts in the victory, giving up just one earned run and improving to 10-3 on the year in the circle.
Despite four Saint Anselm errors, the Hawks managed to out-hit Franklin Pierce 11-10 and come up with timely hits to surge to the win. Similarly, after relocating to the campus of SNHU for game two, the Hawks found themselves in a slugfest against Saint Michael's as the teams combined for 31 hits and 18 runs.
The Purple Knights scored two runs in the first and another in the second to leap out to a quick 3-0 lead. LeClair led off the second inning with a shot to center and was moved to third on a Moran rip down the left field line. With two outs, freshman Hannah Paitchel (Pelham, N.H.) stepped up with a two-RBI double to right and freshman Amanda Bickford (Salem, N.H.) scored Paitchel on a single to center to tie the game at 3-3 after two busy innings.
Saint Michael's continued to put runners on and manufacture runs, adding one in both the top of the third and fourth innings before LeClair belted a two-run homer to headline a four-hit Saint Anselm half of the fifth for the second tie of the game at 5-5.
Sophomore hurler Sam Hennequin (Amherst, N.H.) relieved senior Paige Cormier (Rochester, N.H.) in the top of the sixth and made an immediate impact, sitting down the side. That momentum carried into the bottom half of the sixth where the Hawks erupted for six runs off five hits—two of which counting as round-trippers—and a few mental errors on the Saint Michael's defense. With one out, Crannell singled and was promptly brought home my Murrell's jack to right. Junior Pattie Turner (Warwick, R.I.) singled and moved to second, eventually scoring off a LeClair single to left and a communication error between the SMC third baseman and pitcher, leading to Turner scoring. An ensuing wild pitch scored LeClair, Byrne walked and Criscione then tallied her first homerun of the season to left for a two-RBI shot.
Hennequin would add her fourth strikeout of the game, but three straight singles loaded the bases. An RBI groundout, followed by a wild pitch would cut the deficit to four runs, but the sophomore induced a popout to Turner at first to pick up her third win of the year.
Saint Anselm will look to keep its offensive momentum alive Wednesday afternoon, hosting Stonehill College in a huge game at South Athletic Field. The two teams, separated by just one game in the loss column, split a double-header earlier this month. Game time for the rubber match is slated for 4 p.m.