Messina, Blue Devils Blank Pioneers Twice on Saturday

Messina, Blue Devils Blank Pioneers Twice on Saturday

Senior pitcher Laura Messina threw two complete game shutouts as the Central Connecticut softball team swept a Northeast Conference doubleheader against the Sacred Heart Pioneers at Pioneer Park on Saturday. Central topped the Pioneers 3-0 in both contests to improve its record to 17-7 overall and a perfect 4-0 in NEC play on the season. The Pioneers drop to 6-17 overall and 1-5 in the NEC with the losses.

Game #1: CCSU 3 - SHU 0

The Blue Devils jumped on the Pioneers early with a run in the top of the first inning, which would prove to be all Messina would need for the 3-0 victory. Senior Kat Malcolm walked and then advanced to second on a passed ball before junior shortstop Eileen Purcell slapped a single through the right side to bring her home to give CCSU a 1-0 advantage.

Central tacked on a second run in the top of the third inning. Malcolm doubled to right center field to lead off the inning and then freshman Tori Constantin brought her home following a Sacred Heart error.

Junior Evie Rentzel then added an insurance run for the Blue Devils in the top of the fifth inning as she blasted her first home run of the season to left center field to give Central the 3-0 victory. The home run for Rentzel marks the seventh of her career.

Messina worked a complete game two-hit shutout in the first game and struck out 12. She faced 27 Pioneer batters, just six over the minimum, and needed 133 pitches (89 strikes) to improve her record to 12-3 inside the circle on the year.

Constantin stayed hot and paced the Blue Devil offense as she was the only player on either side to have a multi-hit game. She finished 2-for-4 with a double and RBI.

Game #2: CCSU 3 - SHU 0

CCSU used 10 hits in the second game to build another 3-0 lead for senior starter Laura Messina as she twirled her second complete game shutout of the day.

The Blue Devils struck early again in the night cap with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Central capitalized on a costly Pioneer error that put runners on second and third with no outs to lead off the inning.

Junior Katie Schmidt drove in the first run with a RBI bunt single to bring in junior Evie Rentzel. Freshman Brittany Camara then plated sophomore Sami Duffy with a sacrifice fly to build the 2-0 CCSU lead.

Similar to the first game, Central added an insurance run in the top of the fourth inning. Camara drove in her second run of the game on a RBI fielder's choice to bring in junior Hannah Cooper who singled earlier in the inning.

The lead would be all Messina would need again as she spun all seven innings allowing just three hits. She struck out 10 of the 27 Pioneer batters she faced, again just six over the minimum, and threw 113 pitches (85 strikes).

Messina now sports an ERA of 1.01 over 117.1 innings of work on the season with 15 complete games and 150 strikeouts. Her record stands at 13-3 and she is just 131 strikeouts away from 1,000 for her career (869).

Senior Ashley Black, Cooper and Schmidt all had two hits apiece to pace the CCSU offense in game two. Schmidt and Cooper both also had an RBI.

The Blue Devils will return to action with another NEC doubleheader on the road at LIU Brooklyn on Thursday, April 9. The games are a makeup from the originally scheduled March 28 doubleheader between the Blue Devils and Blackbirds that was postponed due to inclement weather.