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College Softball: Hawks handed first loss in NCAA championship

May 26. 2018 10:36PM

SALEM, Va. - St. Anselm College suffered its first loss of the NCAA Division II Softball Championship, 11-5, to Southern Arkansas in pouring rain Saturday.

St. Anselm (43-11-1), which saw its seven-game winning streak end and lost for only the fourth time in the last 34 games, faces the Lady Muleriders for the third time at the championships today at 11 a.m. Thew winner will claim a spot in the best-of-three championship series, which starts tonight and ends Monday.

After winning an elimination game earlier in the day against third-seeded and sixth-ranked Angelo State, seventh-seeded and eighth-ranked Southern Arkansas (60-10) kept its season alive by scoring 10 runs over the first three innings.

After being no-hit by Southern Arkansas starter Victoria Taylor into the sixth inning two days before, the Hawks tallied three hits in the top of the first off the righthander to put an early run on the board. Singles by Amanda Bickford and Erin Thompson on either side of a sacrifice bunt by Maggie Murphy put runners on the corners with one out, and after a pop out, Shannon Colson drove a single to center field to bring in Bickford.

In the bottom of the inning, the Lady Muleriders scored six runs on two hits thanks largely to seven walks to lead 6-1 after one.

The Lady Muleriders loaded the bases in the bottom of the third on a single by Sarah Pitre, a throwing error on a bunt and an intentional walk to Goad. After Abbie Murrell struck out Megan Godoyo, Faith Otts hit a sacrifice fly to right to tack on Southern Arkansas' seventh run and Jill Roye followed with an RBI double to right center. Coming up with runners on second and third and two outs, Marina Duran cracked a two-run single down the left-field line to make it a 10-1 game.

After being lifted in the first inning, Courtney Fisher re-entered the game in the bottom of the fourth and was greeted by a double to right center off the bat of Pitre, who moved to third on a ground out and later scored on a Godoyo single to shallow right.

Fisher suffered her first loss since April 9 after allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. Abbie Murrell allowed four runs (no earned runs) on five hits over 2 2/3 frames.

In the top of the fifth, the Hawks used five walks and a hit batter to score four runs to avoid a run-rule defeat. Two walks and a single filled the bases and, with two outs, Jordan O'Connor and Lauren Washburn drew consecutive four-pitch walks to bring in two runs. With the count at 2-0 on Madison Borrelli, there was a 13-minute rain delay and, upon resumption, Borrelli coaxed another walk to plate a run.

The next batter, Shannon McLaughlin, was hit by a pitch to plate the fourth run of the inning before Brooke Ford-Nelson got her team out of the inning with an 11-5 lead courtesy of a three-pitch strikeout.