The Central Connecticut softball team (21-10, 11-1 NEC) suffered its first Northeast Conference loss on Saturday against Mount St. Mary's but followed it up with an 11-2 win in game two of the doubleheader. Three home runs in the second game by freshman Evie Rentzel, sophomore Kat Malcolm and senior Nicole Springer totaled five RBI and secured the win in five innings for Central.
Sophomore Laura Messina pitched both games against the Mountaineers (11-25, 3-9 NEC). She racked up 12 strikeouts in game one, just one short of her game high. In game two, she posted nine strikeouts and allowed only six hits. Her record is now 16-6 on the season.
"We swung the bat well today," Head Coach Jeff Franquet said. "We couldn't quite pull off the win in game one but I am proud of how our team battled back to win game two. Hopefully we can perform well against Monmouth tomorrow, if our pitching is on point and we keep swinging the bat, we could be in good shape."
The Mountaineers put the first run on the board in the top of the second. A single to center put the first runner on and Messina followed with a walk and hit two in the box to bring the first run across the plate. With the Mount up 1-0, she quickly threw two back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning and send the Blue Devils back to the plate.
In the top of the fourth, Central put its first run on the board. Freshman Eileen Purcell drove a single to left field and was followed by a triple to right by Cooper to tie the game 1-1.
CCSU gained the lead in the top of the fifth. Malcolm kicked off the inning with a single to the shortstop. She stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. With Malcolm in scoring position, senior Kelsey Barlow stepped up and hit to center field to plate Malcolm. Barlow was out on the play but earned the RBI.
The Blue Devils added another in the top of the sixth to increase the lead to 3-1. Purcell kicked off the inning with a single to right field. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Hannah Cooper and was sent to third by a shot to left by junior Arielle Bruno. Bruno advanced to second and Purcell scored on an error by the left fielder.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mountaineers added two to the board on a two-run homer to left center and an additional two off of a double to center. The four runs ultimately claimed the win for the Mount, 5-3.
After a disappointing loss in game one, the Blue Devils opened the second game with an early lead.
Bruno led off the top of the first with a single through the left side and was followed by a bunt from Malcom. The pair were advanced by a ground out from Springer and another by junior Tessa Brown that sent Malcolm across the plate for the inaugural run.
In the top of the second, the Blue Devils added two more to increase their narrow lead to 3-0. Rentzel sent a single to right field and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Purcell. Freshman Brittany Ernst walked and was followed by a Bruno double to left center to plate both Ernst and Rentzel.
The Mountaineers responded with two solo homers in the bottom of the second to decrease the Blue Devil lead to 3-2.
In the top of the third, Springer reached on an error by the shortstop and was replaced on base by senior Sarah Emery. Rentzel, who entered the game with four career home runs, sent her fifth to right field to add two to the board for Central.
In the top of the fourth, the Blue Devils rallied for six runs to take a commanding lead. Bruno led off with a single through the left side. She was followed by back-to-back home runs by Malcolm, her eighth of the season, and Springer, her sixth, to put the Blue Devils up 8-2.
Following a Mountaineer pitcher change, four consecutive walked batters then a second pitcher change, pinch hitting senior Stephanie Chotkevys hit a single up the middle to bring in two more for the Blue Devils. Central exited the top of the fourth with an 11-2 lead that would carry through the remaining inning.
Central out-hit the Mountaineers 21-11 on the day and committed only two errors compared to three for Mount St. Mary's.
CCSU will continue NEC play tomorrow at Monmouth (21-12, 8-4 NEC). The first pitch against the Hawks is scheduled for 12 p.m. and fans can follow the action via LIVE STATS.