MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior pitcher Tayla Trask (Lincoln, Maine.) gave up just four hits–only one of which reached the outfield–but the Saint Anselm College softball team dropped its NCAA East 2 Regional First Round matchup against crosstown rival Southern New Hampshire University Friday afternoon at Penmen Field, 3-0.
The loss drops the Hawks (22-13) into the consolation bracket of the double-elimination tournament, where they will play Queens College (N.Y) Saturday at 2 p.m. back at Penmen Field. Southern N.H. (32-6) moves into the winner bracket final where they will play LIU-Post, a 2-0 winner over the Knights in Friday's nightcap, at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday
Two of the top pitchers in the Northeast-10 Conference each threw a gem in Friday's NCAA-opener, as the league rivals met for the fourth time this season. Trask, who recorded four strikeouts for the Hawks, finished the day giving up just two earned runs while falling to 11-6 overall in her starts. SNHU senior Ali Maloof, the NE-10 Player and Pitcher of the Year, improved to 21-1 in the circle year while tallying 11 strikeouts and giving up just one hit.
After a quick 1-2-3 first inning in the batting box for Saint Anselm, the Penmen took advantage of some early-game jitters on the Hawks' side by plating two runs off two hits and a throwing error in the bottom of the first. SNHU's Mo Hannan led off with a single to short, then advanced on third on the overthrow. Both of those runs would eventually score—the latter on a perfectly placed bunt single by Lindsey Bolduc—to put the tournament hosts up 2-0 after the first.
The Hawks entered the contest looking to take an aggressive approach at the plate, but had trouble with Maloof's ability to mix it up in the circle. The Hawks failed to have a batter reach base before a leadoff walk was issued to freshman Shannon McLaughlin (Tewskbury, Mass.) in the top of the third, but Maloof responded with three straight swinging K's to retire the side.
After the challenging first inning, the Hawks seemed to settle in defensively for much of the game. After Hannan took a leadoff full count pitch off the leg, freshman Hannah Paitchel (Plaistow, N.H.) tossed to junior Julie LeClair (Taunton, Mass.) to get the lead runner. A popout in foul territory to senior third-baseman Hannah Byrne (Lynn, Mass.) caught the base-running Maloof leaning a bit too far off first to end the home half of the third.
Byrne then responded at the plate in the Hawks half of the fourth, breaking up the no-hit bid with a leadoff wristed loop single into center in the top of the fourth. She was promptly moved to second on a LeClair sacrifice bunt, but she would be stranded there as Maloof induced a flyout and yet another strikeout on a nasty changeup to end the threat.
The Penmen threatened in the bottom of the fifth, as Torsiello was hit by an inside pitch on a full count with nobody out. A sacrifice bunt moved the Penmen catcher to second and an ensuing single by Hannan sent Torsiello around third, but freshman Amanda Bickford (Salem, N.H.) gathered and gunned a perfect strike to junior Pattie Turner (Warwick, R.I.) at the plate to cut down the Penman at home and preserve the two-run defecit.
Southern N.H. would add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as a pair of leadoff walks, a single and a fielder's choice groundout, but Trask escaped from a bases-loaded jam by holding the damage to just one run.
In the other East 2 Regional First Round matchup, LIU-Post (31-15-1) got a two-run homer from Maria Palmeri in the top of the second inning and sophomore Ashley Martin racked up eight strikeouts as the Pioneers hung on for the win. It was the second time LIU-Post has beaten East Coast Conference rival Queens (35-15) in seven tries this season. The Knights managed just three hits against Martin, while pitcher Isabelle Yaroch struck out seven Pioneers on the afternoon, falling to 10-3 overall in the circle.
Saint Anselm is making its second ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Softball Championship Tournament and its first since 2002. Including Friday's defeat, the Hawks fall to 1-3 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.
Live stats, live video feeds and full tournament coverage can be found on the East 2 Regional Hub, located here.