MANCHESTER, N.H. – For the first time in program history, the Saint Anselm College softball team won the Northeast-10 Conference Championship title, downing Adelphi by a 4-3 score in 10 innings on Saturday at the South Athletic Fields.
Saint Anselm, the 24th-ranked program in NCAA Division II according to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, improve to 37-8 overall on the season. The Hawks have won 12 consecutive games and earned the NE10's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Championship. Saint Anselm, ranked second in the most recent NCAA Division II East Region rankings, will find out their opponent via the NCAA Division II Championship selection show slated for Monday, May 6 at 10 a.m. on NCAA.com.
Adelphi, the two-time defending league champions, drop to 31-18 and will likely qualify for the upcoming NCAA tournament by virtue of their sixth place ranking in the most recent regional rankings.
Saint Anselm head coach Jill Gagnon became the all-time winningest coach in program history in just her sixth season, passing long-time coach Bill Vermette (1988-97) and now has 162 career victories at the Hilltop.
Junior Morgan Perry (Bethany, Conn), who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 NE10 Championship, set a new single-season record for strikeouts in a season with 201. She held the previous record of 184, set during her sophomore season. She finished the game with seven strikeouts and allowed three earned runs across a career-high 10 innings, while earning her 22nd win of the year.
The Hawks trailed twice in the ball game, tying the contest in the bottom of the seventh inning and rallying back from a run down in the home half of the 10th.
Senior Jordan O'Connor (New Fairfield, Conn.), who was selected to the All-Championship team, came up with the big hit for the second-straight day, sending a walk-off single to right field to score the tying and game-winning runs for the Hawks with no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning.
With the game tied heading into the bottom of the 10th inning, junior Maggie Murphy (Scarborough, Maine) led off the inning with a double to deep right-center field. Sophomore Lauren Washburn (Carmichael, Calif.) followed up with a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. O'Connor came up to the plate and faked a bunt, allowing Washburn to steal second to put a pair of runners in scoring position.
O'Connor ripped a single to right center to score Murphy and Washburn to send the Hawks to victory.
A pitcher's duel throughout the first seven innings, it was Adelphi that struck first. A two-out walk to Ashley Lombardi put a runner on base for the Panthers. Lauren O'Neill, the number eight hitter in the lineup, delivered a two-run shot to right field to propel Adelphi into the lead, 2-0.
The Hawks would not go quietly in the bottom of the seventh. Junior Erin Thompson (Newton, N.H.) cut the lead in half with her second home run of the season, a solo blast, deep to right field. Sophomore Kat Stackrow (Wynantskill, N.Y.) drew a walk to follow Thompson, yielding at first base to freshman pinch runner Kate Irwin (Milford, Mass.). A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Maddison Leite (Cumberland, R.I.) moved Irwin to second before a two-out single up the middle by junior Shannon Colson (Rochester, N.H.), another All-Championship team selection, knotted the game at two runs.
Adelphi regained the lead in the top of the 10th inning. Lombardi singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a fielding error. Advancing to third base following a sacrifice bunt by O'Neill, a two-out single by Nicoletta Cuccio gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead.
The Panthers had their best opportunity in the sixth inning to take the lead. Cuccio walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Perry got Emily Turney to swing at strike three, Cuccio moved to third on a wild pitch. However, Perry got Hannah Pineda to strike out to end the threat.
Adelphi's Amy Muller, an All-Championship Team pick, had a stellar start to the contest, throwing a one-hitter through six innings of action. She issued just one walk over the first five frames before running into trouble in the sixth. The Hawks loaded the bases with just one away in the inning before setting the next two batters down despite back-to-back full counts to get out of the jam.
Colson led the Hawks offense with three singles at the dish and drove in a run. Muller, who also crossed the 200 strikeout plateau, took the loss for Adelphi and finished with 10 strikeouts. Lombardi and O'Neill each had a pair of hits for the Panthers while O'Neill drove in two runs with the two-run home run in the seventh.
2019 Northeast-10 Conference Softball All-Championship Team