The Central Connecticut softball team scored a record setting 17 runs in the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader at Princeton on Wednesday afternoon. Game one was not without its own historical significance as Coach Jeff Franquet picked up his 300th career head coaching victory as the Blue Devils took game one 5-4 in extra innings.
Game two was much more lopsided as Central's 17 run inning allowed them to cruise to a 19-4 mercy rule victory. The 17 runs are tied for the second most ever in an inning in an NCAA Division I softball game. The single inning record is 29 held by College of Charleston. CCSU joins UTEP, Southern Miss, Jacksonville, and Arizona as the five schools to score 17 in an inning. The wins improve the Blue Devils to 12-9-1 on the season.
The Blue Devils took the opening game 5-4 in eight innings, after allowing three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Central responded with a run in the top of the seventh and a run in the top of the eighth to earn the victory. Senior pitcher Elizabeth Montemurro came out of the pen in the sixth inning to end the Tigers rally and then threw two scoreless frames to earn the victory for the Blue Devils.
Princeton used a leadoff double and a pair of sacrifices to score a run in the bottom of the first inning off of Blue Devils starting pitcher Julie Marks. The freshman pitcher limited the Tigers to just that one run over the first five innings.
With Marks keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard the Blue Devil offense went to work in the top of the third. With one out sophomore Macy Stefanski singled through the left side of the infield. She advanced to second on a ground out and with two out freshman Arielle Bruno launched a homerun to centerfield giving the Blue Devils a 2-1 lead.
The Blue Devils tacked on another run in the third inning when freshman Tessa Brown and sophomore Kelsey Barlow recorded back-to-back singles with one out. Senior Amanda Dilworth followed with a double to rightfield scoring Brown.
Princeton rallied in the bottom of the sixth to score a pair of runs. After a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt, the Tigers used a pair of two out hits to drive home two runs and tie the game at 3-3. A wild pitch and a third consecutive hit plated a fourth run for the Tigers. That run chased Marks from the game, with Montemurro entering the game to record the final out.
The Blue Devils tried to rally in the top of the seventh as Stefanski singled with one out. Senior Erica Koehler walked as a pinch hitter, a walk to Bruno loaded the bases for junior Rebecca Mussatti. Mussatti beat out a fielder's choice tying the game at 4-4.
Montemurro set the Tigers down in the bottom half of the inning. In the top of the eighth, Dilworth led off with a triple and then senior Kat Knowles reached on an error scoring the go ahead run.
The story of game two was Central's second inning. The Blue Devils used the second most runs in a single inning to take a 17-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Senior Kat Knowles led off the inning with a double, senior Erica Koehler was hit by a pitch and sophomore Macy Stefanski bunted for a single to load the bases for junior Sarah Vlahos. Vlahos singled in the Blue Devils first two runs of the inning, but they were far from finished.
The next three Blue Devils reached base, running the streak of to seven batters reaching safely to start the inning. Central's hitters continued to work their way on base with singles and walks as they batted around twice with only one out. The 18th batter of the inning was senior Amanda Dilworth who put the cap on the 17 run inning with a grand slam deep over the left field fence.
In all, the Blue Devils sent 20 batters to the plate, 17 of those runners scored including 17 of the first 18 hitters of the inning.
Central tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth when sophomore Kelsey Barlow smacked her team best seventh homerun of the season.
Six Blue Devils finished with multiple hit games, and five recorded multiple RBIs. Dilworth was the big hitter on the day as she went three-for-four with four RBIs, and a pair of runs scored. Freshman Tessa Brown and Vlahos each recorded three RBIs in the game.
Sophomore Jordan Tingley earned the victory pitching all five innings and striking out six Princeton batters.
Franquet's 300th win comes in his second d year as the Blue Devils skipper. In his first seasons and a half in New Britain he has won 31 games. His 269 other victories have come at stops with Georgian Court University, Jacksonville University and Central Florida Community College.
After the game Franquet said, "That second inning was a perfect example of how a coach gets to 300 wins, by having good players who play hard and play together. I'm happy to have reached this mark, but I am even happier to see these kids achieve what they did today."
The Blue Devils return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they host Fairleigh Dickinson for a doubleheader.