MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior Megan Murrell provided the go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning and sophomore Morgan Perry shut the door by striking out all six batters she faced as the No. 2 seeded Saint Anselm College softball team opened the NCAA East 2 Regional with a 3-2 victory over No. 7 seeded Merrimack College on Thursday afternoon at South Athletic Fields.
With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Murrell singled in Amanda Bickford from third base with two outs for the eventual game-winning run for Saint Anselm (37-10-1). After replacing freshman Courtney Fisher in the sixth, Perry recorded all six of her outs via strikeout to hold Merrimack (31-15) scoreless and record her first-career save.
With the win, the Hawks advance to face No. 3 seed and crosstown-rival Southern New Hampshire University in Game 3 of the East 2 Regional pod at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 11. The Penmen scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to claim a walk-off, 3-2 victory over No. 6 seeded Pace University in the second game of the day. The Warriors and Setters will meet in an elimination game in Friday's second game at 1:30 p.m. The third game on Friday will feature the loser of the Saint Anselm - Southern New Hampshire game against the loser of the Merrimack - Pace matchup in another elimination game and will start at 4 p.m.
Merrimack generated a threat in the top of the first inning against Fisher, putting runners on second and third with two outs, but the freshman got out of the inning by getting a groundout to short. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the first from NE10 Pitcher of the Year Megan Cook, the Warriors again threatened to go on top in the second, but sophomore Shannon Colson threw out Abigail Amato at home from right field for the final out of the inning on a single by Hannah Johnson. The outfield assist was one of two in the game for Colson.
A walk to Colson, a hit batter and a double steal put runners on second and third with two outs for the Hawks in the second before Cook picked up her fifth strikeout of the first two innings to escape. Merrimack went on to open the scoring in the top of the third when Nicole Nanof scored on a play involving a pair of rundowns on the bases.
Held hitless through three innings, Saint Anselm took the lead in the home half of the fourth on a one-out, two-run double to center by Colson. Lauren Washburn started the inning by getting hit by a pitch before Murrell got the Hawks' first hit of the game with a double to left center to put two in scoring position for Colson, who dumped a two-run double into center.
In the top of the fifth, Merrimack evened the score at 2-2 when Johnson doubled to left center, moved to third on sacrifice bunt by Tiffany Mangiameli and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Nanof. Saint Anselm came right back in the bottom of the inning when Bickford doubled to left to start the inning and later came in on Murrell's go-ahead single.
Cook's leadoff double to open the sixth marked the end of the day for Fisher, who picked up the win to move to 15-5 on the season. Fisher allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits before Perry finished off the victory with her six strikeouts in two innings of work. Cook fell to 23-6 this spring with six innings of three-run ball, striking out seven with one walk.