MANCHESTER, N.H. – For the first time in program history, the Saint Anselm College softball team is headed to the NCAA Division II College World Series as the Hawks blanked LIU Post, 5-0, behind a three-hitter from sophomore Morgan Perry to win the East Region title on Friday afternoon at South Athletic Fields.
Entering the day needing one win in potentially two games to punch its ticket to Salem, Virginia, Saint Anselm (41-10-1) took care of business in the first game as Perry limited LIU Post (38-19) to three hits to earn her fourth victory in as many starts. Over five appearances at the East Regional, the sophomore went 4-0 with one save and a 0.93 ERA, allowing 16 hits and three walks in 30.0 innings with 37 strikeouts.
In the two games against the Pioneers, Perry surrendered just seven hits and one earned run in 14.0 innings, striking out 14 with no walks. The sophomore is now 23-4 on the season after firing her eighth shutout of the season on Friday.
The victory sends the Hawks to the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Virginia for the finals of the 2018 NCAA Division II Softball Championship on May 24-28. Six of the other seven spots have also been secured as Southern Arkansas (57-9), Angelo State (25-7), Dixie State (43-9), North Georgia (61-2), West Chester (45-13) and Southern Indiana (36-23) will join Saint Anselm in Salem.
The final spot will be decided later this evening between Alabama-Huntsville and Saint Leo before the final eight teams are re-seeded into a bracket. More information on Saint Anselm's opponent and schedule to come as that information becomes available.
Eight of Saint Anselm's nine starters had at least one hit offensively, led by a 3-for-4 performance by junior Jordan O'Connor. Senior Megan Murrell went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI, senior Amanda Bickford was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored while sophomores Erin Thompson and Shannon Colson each knocked in a run.
LIU Post generated the first scoring chance in the bottom of the second when Breanna Klaiber led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Perry, however, got a strikeout and a ground out to short to escape the jam and keep the game scoreless.
The first eight batters of the top of the third reached for Saint Anselm as the Hawks plated four runs to take control. Shannon McLaughlin started the inning with a double to right center before coming around to score on consecutive singles by Bickford and Maggie Murphy.
Two batters after Murphy's RBI single, Murrell provided a two-run single to center after coming up with the bases loaded and nobody out. Following a pitching change, Colson singled in the final run of the inning off the glove of the left fielder.
The score stayed 4-0 until the sixth when the Hawks added a run on a two-out rally. With two outs, Bickford singled to center and an LIU Post error left runners at first and second for Thompson. The sophomore singled to right and Bickford just beat the throw to the plate to stretch Saint Anselm's lead to 5-0.
Perry retired 13 of the final 15 batters she faced, including a run of eight in a row from the final out of the third to the first out of the sixth, as Saint Anselm improved the 18-1 on its home field in 2018. The Hawks have won 18 of their last 19 games since Apr. 9 and 28 of 31 since Mar. 25 after completing a 5-0 run through the East Regional over the last nine days.
Katie Humhej suffered her second-straight loss, just her third in her last 18 appearances, for LIU Post, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits in two-plus innings. Hannah Olshevski threw the final five frames, giving up an unearned run on six hits.