The Central Connecticut softball team (18-9, 8-0 NEC) maintained its undefeated conference streak with two shutouts over the Sacred Heart Pioneers in Saturday's doubleheader at the CCSU Softball Field. The Blue Devils took the first by a score of 5-0 and the second 4-0. Sophomore Laura Messina records her sixth and seventh shutouts of the season with the victories.
"Laura pitched two great games for us today," Head Coach Jeff Franquet said. "Our fielding has improved and we've been swinging the bat really well as a team. We are looking forward to playing Saint Francis tomorrow and hope to keep up the good work."
Messina pitched the 14 innings against the Pioneers (16-13, 2-4 NEC) and posted a total of 14 strikeouts, setting a new CCSU career record of 317 strikeouts. Today's games mark her second and third consecutive shutouts. Messina has given up only three runs in the last 10 games and her season record improves to 13-5.
Both teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning when freshman Hannah Cooper led off with a double to center field. She was replaced on base by senior pinch runner Sarah Emery. Cooper was followed at the plate by freshman Brittany Ernst who reached first base on an error by the Pioneer first baseman to score Emery and put the Blue Devils up 1-0.
Central broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth with an Ernst double to left field. Junior Arielle Bruno reached first on a bunt and sophomore Kat Malcolm followed with a center-field bomb to clear the bases and put the Blue Devils up 4-0. The homer is the fifth of the season for Malcolm.
The Pioneers threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases, but Messina struck out two of the last three batters of the inning to leave three stranded on base and earn the shutout.
The Blue Devils tallied eight hits compared to six for the Pioneers including two from Bruno and double and a single from senior Nicole Springer.
Freshman shortstop Eileen Purcell blasted her second career home run, a two-run bomb over the center-field fence, to kick off the scoring for the Blue Devils in the bottom of the second inning. Purcell drove in Rentzel on the play, who had singled to the Pioneers' second baseman, to give Central a 2-0 lead.
Rentzel led off in the bottom of the fourth and smacked her second double of the day. She moved around the bases on sacrifice bunts by Purcell and Cooper. Cooper earned the RBI and Rentzel's run put the Blue Devils up 3-0.
Central added the final run of the day when Springer drove a single through the right side to score Malcolm who had reached base on a single to right center.
The Blue Devils registered eight hits in game two compared to just three for the Pioneers. Rentzel led the team with two and Bruno, Malcolm, Springer, Purcell, Cooper and Ernst each added one.
The Blue Devils look to keep their NEC win streak alive, facing off against the Saint Francis University Red Flash tomorrow at the CCSU Softball Field in New Britain, CT. The doubleheader is set to begin at 12 p.m. Fans can follow the action via LIVE STATS.