PREVIEW: Softball meets Southern Arkansas yet again in elimination game

SALEM, Va. – The Saint Anselm College softball team and Southern Arkansas University put their seasons on the line on Sunday when the two teams meet for the third time in four days in an elimination game at 11 a.m. at James I. Moyer Sports Complex.

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Fans making the trip to the James I. Moyer Sports Complex in Salem can purchase tickets at the complex. Individual day tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for seniors, students and youth. All-session tickets are available for $35 for adults and $20 for seniors, students and youth.

HOW THEY GOT HERE – SAINT ANSELM: Saint Anselm won its first two games at the 2018 NCAA Division II Softball Championship in walk-off fashion, defeating Southern Arkansas, 2-1 in nine innings, and Saint Leo, 4-3, to put themselves in pole position. The Hawks dropped their first game of their NCAA Tournament run on Saturday, falling 11-5 to Southern Arkansas, setting up the elimination game between the Hawks and Lady Muleriders.

HOW THEY GOT HERE – SOUTHERN ARKANSAS: After dropping its opener to the Hawks to wind up in the winner's bracket, the Lady Muleriders have won three-straight elimination games to move within a game of the championship series. Southern Arkansas held on for a wild 12-11 victory over Chico State on Friday before the Lady Muleriders won two more elimination games on Saturday, defeating Angelo State, 4-3, and Saint Anselm, 11-5.

SAINT ANSELM NOTES

'MO'WING THEM DOWN: Since the start of regionals, sophomore Morgan Perry has won all six of her starts, going 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA while holding opponents to a .175 average. In 46.0 innings of work, Perry has allowed just nine runs (seven earned) on 29 hits with eight walks and 46 strikeouts. She also earned her first-career save in the first game of the East 2 Regional against Merrimack.

SUPER SOPHOMORES PART 1: Perry has put together one of the top pitching seasons in program history in her second season on the Hilltop. With her 25-4 record this season, the sophomore has set a new school record for victories in a season and she also ranks in the top five in the single-season record book in appearances (second, 32), strikeouts (second, 178), innings pitched (second, 175.2), opponent batting average (fourth, .206) and shutouts (fourth, 8). Through just two collegiate seasons, Perry already ranks sixth all-time at Saint Anselm in strikeouts (228) and eighth in wins (30).

SUPER SOPHOMORES PART 2: Along with Shannon Colson, Maggie Murphy, Erin Thompson and Madison Borrelli, Perry is just one of several sophomores to step up for the Hawks this season, especially in the postseason. Colson dropped down the game-winning squeeze bunt in Friday's walk-off win over Saint Leo to score Murphy and is batting an even .300 (3-for-10) with two runs and two RBI in Salem. In Thursday's victory over Southern Arkansas, Thompson hit the game-tying home run and Borrelli put the ball in play that resulted in the walk-off double-error.

THE BIGGER THEY COME, THE HARDER THEY FALL: Saint Anselm posted back-to-back victories over nationally-ranked teams to start its run in Salem, defeating No. 8 Southern Arkansas and No. 25 Saint Leo. The Hawks, who received votes in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top 25 Coaches Poll of the regular season, are 4-1 against top-25 teams in 2018. The four wins over nationally-ranked teams is the most the Hawks have ever had in a single season.

FINE MARGINS: Six of Saint Anselm's seven victories in the NCAA Tournament this season have come by either one or two runs and the seven wins have come by a total of 13 runs. After yesterday's one-run victory, the Hawks are 10-3 in one-run games this season and 18-4 in games decided by two runs or fewer.

THE ELITE…TWO?: Across all of Saint Anselm's varsity sports, the College has sent only two teams to the Elite Eight from a field of 64 teams. The last team to qualify was the 1999-00 men's basketball team that finished 23-9 after a trip to Louisville, Ky. to take on Metropolitan State. In 2017-18, the Hawks have competed in NCAA postseason events in men's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, field hockey and women's volleyball.

FLYING HIGH: Since starting the season 13-7-1, the Hawks are 30-4 in their last 34 games dating back to Mar. 25. Saint Anselm has won 19 of its last 21 games since Apr. 11, including a school-record 13-game winning streak from Apr. 11-28 that was snapped in the semifinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Softball Championship in a 2-1 loss to Pace in Garden City, N.Y.

IN THE POLLS: Saint Anselm's 13-game winning streak helped propel the Hawks into the NFCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll for the first time in program history at No. 24 in the polls released on Apr. 22 and Apr. 29. Saint Anselm received votes in the final NFCA Division II poll of the regular season.

RECORD PLAYERS: The Hawks' student-athletes have helped the team set several team records in 2018, including games played (55), at-bats (1,512), runs scored (273), hits (469), doubles (79), runs batted in (237), total bases (617), walks drawn (170), times hit by pitch (30), stolen bases (87), saves (6), innings pitched (369), putouts (1107), assists (511) and wins (43), while tying the team record for shutouts (12).

TOUGH TO BEAT TWICE: The Hawks have lost back-to-back games just once this season, falling 7-4 to Kentucky Wesleyan and 2-1 to Nova Southeastern on Mar. 2 on the team's first day at the PFX Spring Games in Clermont, Fla.

POSTSEASON AWARDS: Saint Anselm had a school-record eight All-NE10 selections this season, led by three First Team honorees (Amanda Bickford, Megan Murrell, Erin Thompson). The Hawks also had three Second Team picks (Murphy, Perry, Courtney Fisher) and a pair of Third Team honorees (Jordan O'Connor, Colson).

Bickford, Murrell and Thompson all gathered All-East Region accolades from both the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and the Division II Conference Commissioners Association. All three were first-team picks by the NFCA, while Bickford and Thompson landed spots on the D2CCA All-East Region First Team. Perry was named to the D2CCA Second Team.

PRESEASON POLL: Saint Anselm was picked third, behind Merrimack and Southern New Hampshire, in the Northeast Division in the Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. The Hawks won the divisional crown with a 19-2 record in divisional games, finishing five games ahead of crosstown-rival Southern New Hampshire, as part of a 23-3-1 showing in NE10 play.

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: In its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Saint Anselm holds a 9-5 (.643) all-time record in the national tournament. After going 1-2 in the regionals in both 2002 and 2015, the Hawks ran through the East Regional with a 5-0 record and are now 7-1 in the tournament this season while making their first appearance in the final eight.

THE GAGNON FILE: This season's NE10 Coach of the Year, Jill Gagnon is in her fifth season as the head coach at Saint Anselm and has a career record of 122-81-1 (.601). Gagnon has guided the Hawks to a school-record 41 victories, their first-ever national ranking and a Northeast Division regular-season title on her way to earning her first NE10 Coach of the Year honor. She came to the Hilltop after three seasons as the pitching coach at UMass Boston (2010-12) and, following one season as an assistant, has led the Hawks to two of the program's three NCAA Tournament appearances since starting as head coach in 2014. Now coaching in her hometown of Manchester, N.H., Gagnon played collegiately at Merrimack, where she was a First Team All-NE10 selection in 2009 after a standout high school career at Manchester Memorial.

ALL-TIME VS. SOUTHERN ARKANSAS: Saint Anselm and Southern Arkansas had never met prior to this week and are now playing for the third time in four days. The teams split the first two meetings with the Hawks claiming a nine-inning, walk-off 2-1 victory on Thursday before the Lady Muleriders won yesterday's game, 11-5.