PREVIEW: No. 20 softball, SNHU to meet in East 1 Region finals on Saturday

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally-ranked and top-seeded Saint Anselm College softball team advanced to the finals of the NCAA Division II East 1 Regional pod for the second straight year and will matchup against cross-town rival and fifth-seed Southern New Hampshire University. First pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 from the South Athletic Fields. 

The Hawks and Penmen met in the third game of the tournament on Friday, with Saint Anselm coming out with a 5-0 victory. Saint Anselm needs just one win to advance to the Super Regionals for the second-consecutive season, while Southern New Hampshire needs a pair of wins.

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SCOUTING SAINT ANSELM 

  • The Hawks enter the contest ranked 20th in NCAA Division II, according to the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II Top 25 Poll and are the top-seed in this regional. Saint Anselm was the top-ranked team in the country earlier this season, a first for a varsity program at the Hilltop to earn such distinction.
  • Saint Anselm is riding a 14-game winning streak and holds a 39-8 overall record, earning the automatic bid by virtue of winning their first-ever Northeast-10 Conference championship in program history.
  • It is the fourth trip to the NCAA Championship for the Hawks, who are now 12-7 (.631) overall in the tournament. They are led by sixth year head coach and Jill Gagnon, who earned her second-straight NE10 Coach of the Year award, and now has 164 career wins at the Hilltop and is the all-time leader.
  • Saint Anselm's pitching staff has been one of the best in the nation, boasting a 1.39 earned run average and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.34. The staff has 326 strikeouts. 
  • Junior Morgan Perry (Bethany, Conn.), who was the unanimous NE10 Pitcher of the Year and was also named the Division II Conference Commissioner Association (D2CCA) East Region Pitcher of the Year, has a 24-5 record in 31 starts with 21 complete games to this point. She has 215 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.32.
  • Perry became the fourth student-athlete in program history to record 400 career strikeouts, and now has 449 in just three years. Sophomore pitcher Courtney Fisher (Taunton, Mass.), an NE10 Third Team honoree, has posted a 10-0 record in 15 starts in the circle with 25 appearances. She has 49 strikeouts and has issued just 11 walks.
  • Offensively, the Hawks have scored 214 runs and a batting average of .291 along with 23 home runs. The team has swiped 54 bases as well and has an on-base percentage of .350.
  • Junior Shannon Colson (Rochester, N.H.), a NE10 First Team and NE10 Championship All-Tournament Team selection, leads the team in batting average (.360), stolen bases (21), and hits (58). She has also driven in 14 runs and is second on the team in runs scored with 33. She currently holds the school record with 69 stolen bases. She was also named to the D2CCA First Team along with Perry.
  • Freshman Kylie Fitzpatrick (Danville, N.H), who was named NE10 Defensive Player of the Year, has played in 34 games for the Hawks, primarily at second base. She has an average of .312 and has driven in 13 runs while scoring 12 times. She came up big against the Penmen in the third game of the tournament, with a her first-career home run. Defensively, she has not committed an error to date.
  • Senior Jordan O'Connor (New Fairfield, Conn.) currently leads the team with 34 RBI's and has an average of .340 while slugging a team-high .511. She has nine doubles and five home runs and has scored 26 times. She is the all-time program leader in games played with 174 in her four-years.
  • Sophomore Lauren Washburn (Carmichael, Calif.) earned her first selection to the NE10 Third Team, after posting a .328 batting average and driven in 31 runs. She has eight doubles and has struck out just nine times in 137 at-bats.
  • Junior Maggie Murphy (Scarborough, Maine) earned Second Team All-Conference honors following a campaign where she has hit .322 and leads the team with 14 doubles and 37 runs scored. She is second on the team in stolen bases with 16 and driven in 19 runs to date.
  • Sophomore Maddison Leite (Cumberland, R.I.) has had a breakout year to this point, leading the team with six home runs. She has a 19 RBI's and scored 21 runs with a batting average of .252.
  • Freshman McKenna Smith (Old Town, Maine) has six saves, which is third among all of Division II, and has 62 strikeouts to just 13 walks.

 SCOUTING SOUTHERN N.H.

  • The Penmen are in the midst of their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, with a 38-14 record. Southern New Hampshire defeated Georgian Court University with a 7-0 win on Friday to advance to the finals of the tournament.
  • The Penmen have a 13-11 all-time in the NCAA Championship and have reached the Super Regional's twice (2015, 2016).
  • Southern New Hampshire's 1.30 earned run average is one of the nation's best in all of Division II. Junior Maddy Barone has a 1.18 ERA with a 20-6 record in 29 starts to lead the Penmen pitching staff. She has 180 strikeouts and issued just 33 free passes with 23 complete games. Sophomore Olivia Strasser posted a 14-4 record with 12 complete games. She posted a 1.28 earned run average and has 56 strikeouts to 28 walks to this point.
  • The offense has been led by NE10 Player of the Year senior Erin Garczynski. She slashed a line of .424/.478/.671 in 51 games while driving in 32 runs and scoring 30 times. She also had a team-high 19 doubles along with six home runs. As a team, the Penmen area batting .288, scoring 237 times and have 41 home runs.
  • Freshman Emily Carbonneau has a team-high 10 and 35 RBI's to date. Sophomore Emily Critch has eight long balls and driven in 20 runs while scoring 23 times.
  • Currently in her 14th season at the helm, head coach Deb Robitaille has posted a 378-249 record with the Penmen.

ALL-TIME vs. SOUTHERN N.H.: The Penmen hold an all-time series lead of 44-41 against Saint Anselm. However, the Hawks swept the season series this year and have won six of the last seven games against Southern New Hampshire. Saint Anselm has gone 4-0 this year against the Penmen, including a victory in game three of this double-elimination tournament.