The Central Connecticut softball team claimed game one of the Northeast Conference Tournament Thursday over the Monmouth Hawks by a score of 5-1. Sophomore NEC Player of the Year Kat Malcolm opened the game with a two-run homer in the top of the first to put the Blue Devils on top with a lead they would not relinquish. Malcolm's homer is her 10th of the season and ties her for the single-season home run record.
Sophomore Laura Messina, who earned All-NEC First Team honors, pitched all seven innings registering seven strikeouts, walking one batter and allowing only one run. Messina's record improves to 25-9 on the season.
"We are happy to be headed into the winner's bracket," Head Coach Jeff Franquet said. "We played well today and we hope to keep up the good work throught the weekend. It's great to get the first win, but now it's time for us to focus on tomorrow."
Malcolm's deep two-run homer in the bottom if the first gave the Blue Devils an early lead. Malcolm drove in junior and fellow All-NEC First-Teamer Arielle Bruno who led off the inning with a single. Central loaded the bases with no outs but left all three stranded at the conclusion of the inning.
The Blue Devils kept the 2-0 lead through the bottom of the fourth until a rip up the middle by Malcolm drove in pinch running freshman Katie Schmidt. Senior Nicole Springer followed with an RBI single to plate Bruno, who reached on a walk. The third run of the inning came on an RBI fly out to center field to send Malcolm home and put Central up 5-0 after the fourth.
In the top of the seventh, the Hawks prevented a shutout scoring one and threatening with two more on base. Malcolm caught two in center and Messina registered her seventh strikeout of the game to close out the inning and win the game, 5-1.
The Blue Devils tallied nine hits on the day, compared to five for the Hawks. Central earns a spot in the winner's game tomorrow, Friday, May 10, at 10:30 a.m. and will face #4 seed LIU Brooklyn. Fans can follow the game live on www.NECFrontRow.com or via LIVE STATS.