CLERMONT, Fla. – The Saint Anselm College softball team dropped its first two games on its trip to Florida, falling 7-4 to Kentucky Wesleyan College and 2-1 to Nova Southeastern University on Friday at Legends Way Ballfields.
In the opener, Saint Anselm (4-3) fell behind 7-0 before scoring four-straight runs in the middle innings, but could not get any closer against Kentucky Wesleyan (9-6). The Hawks got a strong pitching performance from Courtney Fisher and a run-scoring triple from Kaleigh Scoville in the nightcap, but came up a run short to Nova Southeastern (9-11).
Kentucky Wesleyan 7, Saint Anselm 4 | Box
Kentucky Wesleyan jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first game of the day, scoring in each of its first three at-bats. Saint Anselm rallied with two in the third and two in the fourth to get within three, only for the Panthers to shut the door. The game was the first-ever meeting between the Hawks and Panthers.
Megan Murrell drove in a pair of runs for the Hawks, one on a single and another on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. Amanda Bickford reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, while Shannon McLaughlin and Shannon Colson were each 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Freshman Abbie Murrell allowed just one unearned run in 4.2 innings of relief for Saint Anselm. Evyn Hendrickson earned the win for Kentucky Wesleyan by going five innings, allowing four runs (two earned), before Autumn Grady picked up the win with two shutout innings.
The Panthers scored twice in the top of the first, plating runs on a single by Lexie Mullen and a double by Jaclyn Parker. After adding a run in the second on a Jaylin Tidwell RBI single, Kentucky Wesleyan scored four runs on four hits in the third to lead 7-0.
Saint Anselm started its rally in the bottom of the third, scoring twice after the first two batters were retired. After Erin Thompson drew a two-out walk, she came around to score on a throwing error on a single by Jordan O'Connor, with O'Connor moving to second on the error. Megan Murrell followed with a single to center to plate O'Connor.
The Hawks added two more in their next inning at the plate, starting the inning with back-to-back bunt singles by Colson and McLaughlin. After a bunt moved the runners up, Thompson knocked in a run on a fielder's choice. With two outs, O'Connor and Murrell were then both hit by pitches, with Murrell's brining in McLaughlin, before a strikeout ended the rally and the game's scoring.
Nova Southeastern 2, Saint Anselm 1 | Box
Dominique Sprengers threw a complete game and scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth for Nova Southeastern, as the Sharks edged the Hawks in the second-ever meeting between the two programs. The two teams had not met since a 6-1 Nova Southeastern win in 2002.
Sprengers allowed just three hits in the game, but Fisher kept the Hawks in the game with a six-inning complete game of her own. Fisher scattered nine hits to hold the Sharks to two runs.
Nova Southeastern scratched across the game's first run in the bottom of the third. Singles by Sydney Lageyre and Kailynn Blackwood put runners on the corners with one out and Daniela Bautista followed with a bunt single to bring home Lageyre. Fisher left two runners in scoring position to limit the damage to a single run.
Saint Anselm knotted the game at 1-1 in the fifth on a booming RBI triple over the right fielder's head off the bat of Scoville. Scoville's first-career triple followed a single by Maddison Leite that broke up Sprengers' no-hit bid. Sprengers regrouped to retire the next two batters to leave Scoville at third.
Sprengers led off the home half of the sixth with a double to deep center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. After a walk, Megan Maloney brought in Sprengers for the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly to left.
Down to their final at-bat, the Hawks came within a foot or two of tying the game in the seventh, when Megan Murrell sent a double high off the wall in left center with one out. After pinch running for Murrell, Colson was unable to advance any further as the Sharks claimed the one-run victory.
Saint Anselm faces Ursuline at 3 p.m. and USciences at 5:30 p.m. at Hancock Park on Saturday, March 3 on day two of its showing at The Spring Games.