Leaving it late! Softball walks off for second-straight day in Salem

Leaving it late! Softball walks off for second-straight day in Salem

SALEM, Va. – For the second-straight day, the Saint Anselm College softball team overcame a late one-run deficit to claim a walk-off victory at the 2018 NCAA Division II Softball Championship, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Saint Leo University, 4-3, on Friday afternoon at James I. Moyer Sports Complex.

Box Score | Game-winning Squeeze Bunt | Post-Game Press Conference

Through six and a half innings, Saint Anselm (43-10-1) had just three hits off the Saint Leo (38-17) pitching staff, but the Hawks used four singles in the seventh to claim their seventh walk-off victory of the season. With the victory, the second-seeded Hawks join eighth-seeded Southern Indiana with 2-0 marks in the 2018 Division II Softball Championship.

Senior Amanda Bickford started the seventh-inning rally with her third hit of the game, a solid single to center. Sophomore Maggie Murphy followed with a single up the middle before a flyout and a Murphy stolen base left runners on second and third with one out. Senior Megan Murrell tied the game with an RBI single to left to score Bickford and move Murphy, the winning run, to third for sophomore Shannon Colson. After a pitching change brought Saint Leo starter Auria Mounts back into the game, Colson dropped down a squeeze bunt on a 1-1- pitch, allowing Murphy to scamper home and slide in safely with the game-winning run.

Saint Anselm's next game will be on Saturday, May 26 at 10:30 a.m. against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The Hawks will play the winner of an 8:30 a.m. game between fourth-seeded Angelo State and either seventh-seeded Southern Arkansas or third-seeded Chico State. The Muleriders and Wildcats play an elimination game at 6:30 p.m. on Friday evening with the winner advancing to face the Rambelles on Saturday morning.

Bickford had three of her team's seven hits in the game, going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Murrell went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while Murphy and Colson had a hit apiece. Sophomore Morgan Perry won her sixth-straight start in the NCAA Division II Championship, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in a complete-game with three strikeouts and no walks.

The Lions put runners on base in each of the first five innings against Perry before the sophomore retired the final eight batters she faced in the game for her 25th victory of the season. Saint Leo put runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings.

Saint Leo used its speed to generate scoring chances in each of the first two innings, swiping three bases early on. After the Lions left a runner at second in the first, the designated visiting team put runners on second and third with two outs in the second, but freshman Maddison Leite made a diving catch on a popped up bunt to get the Hawks out of the inning.

After Leite's catch, the Hawks started the scoring with two runs in the top of the third. The inning started with a Murrell single and a walk to Colson and, later in the inning, Saint Anselm had the bases loaded with two outs for Shannon McLaughlin, who took four-straight balls after falling behind 0-2 to bring in the opening run. Bickford, the next batter, swung at the first pitch and hit a chopper into the hole at short for an RBI single to make it 2-0 and chase Auria Mounts from the circle.

In the fifth, Saint Leo took the lead on two hits and a couple Saint Anselm errors to go ahead 3-2. A bloop single by Sommer Pollard started the inning and a check-swing bloop double by Ashley Morris over the drawn in Lauren Washburn at third put runners on second and third with one out. Shyanne DuBois then dropped a single into shallow right field that scored two as it got past Colson and Bethany Kursch put the Lions on top with an RBI ground out.

Mounts surrendered two runs on two hits and three walks in 1.2 innings of work for the Lions before being relieved by Alison Mitts and took the loss. Mitts, who did not allow a hit over her first four-plus innings of work until the seventh, was saddled with the loss, allowing two runs in 4.2 innings of relief.

Shyanne DuBois had three of Saint Leo's seven hits in the game, going 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Four other Lions had one hit apiece.

Saint Anselm is now 10-3 in one-run games this season, including four wins by the slimmest of margins in the 2018 NCAA Division II Championship alone. The Hawks are the lone team left in the field to not lose since the start of regionals with an unblemished 7-0 record and are now 9-4 all-time in the national tournament.