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College Softball: St. Anselm 'Super' in Super Regional opener

Special to the Union Leader

May 17. 2018 9:23PM
During the 2018 NCAA Division II Softball Championship East Super Regional hosted by St. Anselm College on Thursday afternoon at the campus in Goffstown. St. Anselm was playing against LIU Post. St. Anselm's Maggie Murphy, right, with the rest of the dugout, was urging on her teammates during the game. She scored a run. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)

BEDFORD — It was the first time the St. Anselm softball team had ever been in an NCAA Super Regional, and the Hawks found themselves up against an LIU Post program that had made the NCAA tournament in all but two years since 1997.

In the end, it was the Hawks who looked like the team with all the experience as they took a lead in the first inning and kept the Pioneers down en route to a 3-1 win in Game 1 of the best-of-three-series.

The win was St. Anselm’s 27th in its last 30 games and puts the Hawks (40-10-1) one game away from the program’s first trip to the College World Series in Virginia. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary will be played today at 1 and 3:30 p.m. on the Hilltop.

Sophomore pitcher Morgan Perry shined brightest in front of an overflow crowd. Perry threw a complete-game, four hitter, striking out eight.

“I think we played really well today in all three aspects (of the game),” St. Anselm coach Jill Gagnon said. “Obviously, Morgan had a phenomenal game and shut them down. They’re a powerful offensive team. That was impressive. We did just enough. To be one game away feels great.”

The Hawks struck early when Rochester’s Shannon Colson singled to left field to score fellow sophomore and Erin Thompson, of Newton.

Colson singled home another run in the third to put the Hawks up 2-0.

“I think just going up there and being confident in my abilities knowing I can hit the ball,” Colson said. “I just tried to wait for the (right) pitch.”

The Pioneers (38-18) came into the game on the heels of two eight-run wins in the regional round but were shut down by Perry and the Hawks’ defense. Post’s biggest weapon, sophomore Abbey Fortin, entered the game with more home runs (18) than St. Anselm had as a team (14).

Fortin hit a bomb over the left-field wall in the fourth inning to make it a 2-1 game but struck out in both of her other at-bats. Her strikeout to end the sixth may have been Perry’s best moment of the game. She fell behind 2-0 in the count before throwing three straight strikes to end the inning.

Perry also got great defense behind her throughout with left fielder Maggie Murphy’s jumping spinning catch at the wall in the sixth the biggest highlight.

“I think I focused really well on hitting my spots,” Perry said. “I knew they were a great offensive team so I needed to go in, have a great mental game. Most of the time when I’m there, I know my defense is going to be behind me no matter what even if there’s a ball over my head. I don’t doubt it at all.”

The Hawks added an insurance run in the fifth when senior Megan Murrell doubled home Thompson.

“I think it’s a strength for us that we haven’t played them yet this year,” Gagnon said. “They haven’t faced any of our pitchers. Things went our way today, but we don’t expect them to come out with anything less than being in attack mode (today).”

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