MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College softball team posted a 5-1 loss to LIU Post on Thursday in the opening game of the 2019 NCAA Division II East Super Regional at the South Athletic Fields.
Saint Anselm, the reigning East Region champions and the NCAA Division II runner-up in 2018, falls to 40-9 on the season and will need to capture back-to-back wins on Friday, May 17 to claim its second regional title. The first game against LIU Post is scheduled for 12 p.m. with the second game, if necessary, kicking off at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The Pioneers improve to 50-10, equaling the single-season program record for wins, after overcoming an early 1-0 deficit with five unanswered runs. LIU Post scored three runs in the fourth inning and added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning.
LIU Post left three baserunners stranded in its first two times at-bat, but it was the Hawks that pushed across a run first. Senior shortstop Jordan O'Connor (New Fairfield, Conn.), who led off the inning with a double to left, was driven in with an RBI double by sophomore Kat Stackrow (Wynantskill, N.Y.). With a runner on second and one out, Pioneers pitcher Hannah Olshevski retired the final two Hawks batters to escape trouble.
The Pioneers knotted the game at one in the top of the fourth inning as Breanna Klaiber hit a towering shot to left field, leading off the stanza with the blast. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, designated player Ashley Melendez homered to center field to create a 3-1 advantage for the visitors. Sophomore Courtney Fisher (Taunton, Mass.) came on in relief, getting the final two outs to extinguish the threat.
The Hawks stranded three runners on base before LIU Post cashed in with two more runs in the top of the sixth. With the bases packed with Pioneers, first baseman Hanna Finkelstein singled to first base for an RBI before Klaiber picked up her third RBI of the afternoon with a bases-loaded walk.
Olshevski, the East Coast Conference's Pitcher of the Year, retired the final six Hawks batters in order to maintain her team's four-run lead. She finished the day with only one earned run allowed, fanning three Hawks batters.
Hawks junior Morgan Perry (Bethany, Conn.) drew the loss, yielding three runs in three-and-one-third innings pitched. She became the first Saint Anselm pitcher to throw over 200 innings in a season, finishing the day with 201.1 to her credit across 32 appearances.
Fisher, in her first action since the regular season, allowed two earned runs in two-and-two-third innings before yielding to freshman McKenna Smith (Old Town, Maine), who fanned two of the three batters she faced.
Freshman catcher Bailey Cain (Wellington, Fla.) led the Hawks with two hits in three at-bats.
Thursday's result not only snapped a 15-game winning streak, but it was only the Hawks second loss at the South Athletic Fields of the 2019 campaign.