Softball downs No. 16 West Chester in season-opening split

Softball downs No. 16 West Chester in season-opening split

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The Saint Anselm College softball team opened its 2018 season by defeating No. 16-ranked West Chester, 4-1, before falling to Slippery Rock, 5-4, on Friday afternoon at Market Commons Complex.

Saint Anselm 4, No. 16 West Chester 1 | Box Score

In the opener, sophomore Morgan Perry limited West Chester (0-2) to one run over six innings and classmate Maggie Murphy delivered a three-run double for Saint Anselm (1-1). The Hawks got to reigning First Team All-American Amanda Houck for four runs over her five innings after Houck went 34-6 with a 1.50 earned-run average last season.

Perry held the Golden Rams to a single run on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts over six solid innings to earn the victory. After Perry ran into trouble in the seventh, freshman Courtney Fisher induced three ground balls to leave the bases loaded and record the save.

The Hawks did all of their damage in the bottom of the third against Houck. Singles by Shannon McLaughlin and Amanda Bickford on either side of a West Chester error loaded the bases for Erin Thompson, who delivered a RBI single to left. Murphy followed with a bases-clearing double to left to stretch Saint Anselm's lead to 4-0.

Bickford threw out a runner at the plate to end the top of the fourth and keep it a 4-0 lead before the Golden Rams got on the board in the fifth. After West Chester filled the bases with one out, Perry got a strikeout looking for the second out, but Madison Kelly followed with a single to third to plate a run. Perry kept the damage to one with another strikeout looking to end the threat.

In the top of the seventh, three singles by the Golden Rams loaded the bases with nobody out. Following a pitching change, Perry got a pair of ground balls to short for force plays at home and a grounder to second to earn the save.

The win was Saint Anselm's second in its last three meetings with nationally-ranked teams. The Hawks took No. 18-ranked Caldwell in Clermont, Fla. on March 9, 2017 before falling to No. 19-ranked Indianapolis the next day.

Slippery Rock 5, Saint Anselm 4 | Box Score

In the second game of the day, Saint Anselm took a 4-0 lead into the sixth, but Slippery Rock (2-0) rallied with five in the sixth to claim the come-from-behind victory. Bickford had a two-run triple as part of a three-run second to help the Hawks to the lead only for The Rock to tally five runs on five hits late on to pull out the win.

Sophomore Jordan O'Connor was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI for Saint Anselm, while Fisher allowed five runs (two earned) in 5.2 innings in her first collegiate start. Shannon Colson drew three walks, scored twice and stole a base as well.

In the second, Colson drew a one-out walk, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman to Maddison Leite. After singles by McLaughlin and O'Connor, Bickford slugged a triple to score them both and make it 3-0.

The Hawks added a fourth run in the top of the fourth when O'Connor plated Colson with a one-out single. Colson again scored the run after walking, stealing second and moving to third on a fly ball.

In the five-run sixth, Slippery Rock got RBI base hits from Lauren Hawley and Kailey Myers and capitalized on an error to tie it at 4-4. Emily Nagle had the game-winning two-out single off Fisher, who gave way to freshman Abbie Murrell for her collegiate debut for the final two batters.

Amie Shumaker earned the victory for The Rock with 3.2 innings of one-hit relief.

Saint Anselm plays two more at the 2018 Snowbird Freeze Out on Saturday, Feb. 17. The Hawks face Concord at noon and West Virginia State at 2 p.m.