MANCHESTER, N.H. – Behind a 10-strikeout complete game by sophomore Morgan Perry, the No. 2-seeded Saint Anselm College softball team advanced to its first-ever NCAA Division II East Regional final by defeating crosstown-rival and No. 3-seeded Southern New Hampshire University, 3-1, on Friday at South Athletic Fields.
Perry tied the Saint Anselm (38-10-1) single-season program record with her 20th victory of the spring by holding Southern New Hampshire (38-13) to one unearned run on three hits with 10 strikeouts to move to 20-4 on the season. Seven Hawks had one hit apiece in the victory, highlighted by sophomore Maggie Murphy hitting her first home run of the season.
With the victory, Saint Anselm improved to 15-1 at home this season while moving into the final of the regional on Saturday, May 12. The Hawks will await the survivor of Friday afternoon's two elimination games and whichever team advances will need to defeat Saint Anselm twice on Saturday. Friday afternoon's first game at pits No. 7-seeded Merrimack against No. 6-seeded Pace with the winner of that game moving on to face No. 3-seeded Southern New Hampshire at 4 p.m. Game times for Saturday are currently set for 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (if necessary), weather permitting.
The Hawks got RBI singles from freshman Lauren Washburn and junior Jordan O'Connor in the third to start the scoring and went ahead 3-0 on Murphy's solo home run in the fourth. The Penmen threatened to tie the game in the fifth putting runners on second and third with one out with a run in already, but Perry fanned the final two batters of the inning on her way to retiring the final eight batters of the contest.
After Perry pitched around a one-out double in the top of the first, Saint Anselm put runners on first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the frame. Senior Amanda Bickford doubled to left center before Murphy drew a walk, but Southern New Hampshire starter Sarah Lavallee got out of the jam by getting the next three batters.
The Hawks left two runners on in each of the first two innings before getting to Lavallee in the third with four singles in a five-batter span. With runners on first and second and two outs, Washburn drove a single off the glove of Lavallee with the ball ricocheting towards second base allowing Erin Thompson to score. O'Connor followed with a RBI single up the middle to chase Lavallee from the circle.
After homering twice last season as a freshman, Murphy waited until the 49th game of her sophomore season to go deep, hitting one out to right center with two gone in the fourth. In the top of the fifth, the Penmen put runners on first and third on a one-out double by Katie Horiuchi and a single by Maddy Barone. After a throwing error on a bunt led to a run and put runners on second and third with one out, Perry struck out the next two batters to keep her team ahead by two.
Perry had five strikeouts among the eight-straight batters she retired to finish off her 13th complete game of the season and lower her ERA to 1.72. The sophomore did not walk a batter, firing 71 of her 104 pitches for strikes.
Lavallee suffered just her fourth loss of the season (16-4) by surrendering two runs on five hits in 2.2 innings before giving way to Barone. Barone worked the final 3.1 innings, giving up one run on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.
The victory also gave the Hawks the Queen City Cup for the first time in the fourth year of the intracity rivalry between the two schools. Saint Anselm leads the all-sport competition, 21-15, with only four more points available should the two teams meet twice on Saturday. The Hawks cannot earn any more points from softball, having already earned the maximum of four points from the sport.