Rentzel Hits Walk-Off Homer in 8th; Softball 10-0 in the NEC
On a windy Sunday at the CCSU Softball Field, the Central Connecticut softball team blasted six homers and swept Saint Francis University to remain undefeated in the NEC. The Blue Devils extend their win streak to 12, a new CCSU record. Game two of the doubleheader went into extra innings and was ended with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth by freshman Evie Rentzel. Central is now 20-9 overall and 10-0 in the NEC.
The Blue Devils took the first game 8-5 and claimed the second 12-11.
"Our whole line-up is swinging the bat really well and I'm proud of them," Head Coach Jeff Franquet said. "Winning 12 in a row means you're doing something right, but we're focused on one game at a time and making it to the NEC tournament."
Sophomore Laura Messina took to the circle for both games against the Red Flash (16-15, 1-3 NEC). She pitched 15 innings, struck out 15 batters and improves her season record to 15-5.
The Blue Devils got out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Kat Malcolm, who is ranked 40th in runs per game, nationally, singled to the second baseman and was brought across the plate on a hard shot to right center by Nicole Springer. Springer doubled on the play but was left on base to end the inning with Central up 1-0.
Malcolm added three more for the Blue Devils on a left-field bomb, her sixth of the season, in the bottom of the third inning. She drove in freshman Brittany Ernst, who reached on a walk, and junior Arielle Bruno who reached on a successful bunt. Junior Tessa Brown singled to left field with one out and senior Kelsey Barlow, who holds the CCSU home run record, kept the hitting going with her 23rd career home run over the left-field fence. Central exited the inning with a 6-0 lead.
The Red Flash got on the board in the top of the fourth on a homer to left field by Chelsea Rex. She drove in three for Saint Francis to cut the Blue Devil lead in half, 6-3.
Central added two more in the bottom of the fourth to increase the lead to five. Freshman Hannah Cooper led off the inning with a single down the left field line. She was followed up by single from Ernst. With two runners on, Springer launched her second double of the game to plate both Cooper and Ernst, 8-3 Central.
In the top of the sixth, lead off SFU batter Kate Blattenberger sent a homer over the left field fence to add another to the board for the Red Flash. Freshman Sabrie Neeb notched another in the top of the seventh to end the scoring, 8-5 Blue Devils.
Central exploded in the bottom of the first inning plating four runners to get out to an early lead. Bruno kicked off the inning with a walk followed by a Malcolm double to bring Bruno home. Springer earned an RBI on a ground-out that sent Malcolm across the plate to put Central up 2-0.
Brown launched a double to left field with one out and Barlow followed her with her second home run of the day. The Blue Devils batted through the lineup in the first inning, loading the bases, but three were left stranded after a strikeout ended the inning.
The Red Flash responded in the top of the second with a two-run homer from Rex, her second of the day, to cut the lead in half, 4-2.
Malcolm smacked her second home run of the day, the seventh of the season, to lead off the bottom of the second, 5-2 Central. Rentzel sent two more across the plate on a left field single to increase the lead to 7-2. She drove in Brown, who had reached on error, and Barlow who doubled to left field.
The Red Flash notched another run in the top of the fourth when Sabrie Neeb sent a solo homer over the left field fence. The Blue Devils exited the inning on a diving catch by Bruno to capture the third out, 7-3 Central.
Springer matched the solo homer with one of her own in the bottom of the fourth. She sent one to the trees beyond right field. Brown followed with a double and crossed the plate on a Purcell single, 9-4 Blue Devils.
Saint Francis led off the top of the sixth with a another solo homer. They succeeded in loading the bases and a one-out grand slam brought the Red Flash within one. CCSU went into the bottom of the fifth clinging to a narrow 9-8 lead.
Central quickly added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on a Purcell single through the left side to drive in Brown, who reached on single, and Barlow who drew a walk. The Blue Devils ended the sixth up by three, 11-8.
Despite Central's best efforts to finish the game in the top of the seventh, the Red Flash batted through the lineup and tallied three runs in the inning to tie the game. The Blue Devils failed to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh and the teams went into extra innings.
Central held Saint Francis scoreless in the top of eighth and Rentzel led off the bottom of the inning. She connected with the first pitch for the sixth Blue Devil homer of the day. The ball soared over the left-field fence to end the game and continue the CCSU win streak.
The Blue Devils registered 28 hits on the day including eight doubles and six home runs. Brown led the team with five hits and three runs on the day. Springer also had a successful day at the plate hitting three doubles and a homer. Malcolm and Barlow each hit two out of the park.
Central returns to action on Saturday, April 13, at Mount St. Mary's (10-22, 2-8 NEC) to continue NEC competition.