Albin Pitches KSC Into Day Two of LEC Softball Tournament
Willimantic, Conn. 5/3/12 – Having not won a first round tournament game since 2007, the Keene State College softball team defeated the Western Conn. State University Colonials 3-1 in the first round of the Little East Conference Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Eastern Softball Field.
With the win KSC avoids playing until tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m., and will face Plymouth State, who defeated Rhode Island College 9-8 in game three of the LEC Tournament.
"It's extremely important to win the first game," said KSC head coach Charlie Beach. "If you lose, you have to play again on the same night and we didn't want to have to do that again."
The Owls, who improve to 24-8-1 with the win, were eliminated on the first day in last year's Little East Conference Tournament, after dropping games to Eastern Conn. State and Rhode Island College. "We know how important it is to win the first game," said senior starting pitcher Emily Albin (Bethel, Conn.). "Last year it didn't go so well for us, so we wanted to come out and play hard and win."
WestConn has to come back again tonight, and play UMass Boston in an elimination game, set to begin at 6 p.m. Keene defeated Western for the third time this season and has defeated the Colonials the last four times the teams have met in the tournament. Western had won its last six entering the game and nine of its last 11, its only two losses in that stretch to Eastern Connecticut.
Albin, who had defeated WestConn 8-4 at Owl Athletic Complex back on April 14th, pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, and allowed only one run while striking out five batters. "I was thankful for the opportunity to pitch game one," said Albin of getting the start. "I kept the batters off balance with my changeup and rise ball."
The Colonials got their only run of the game off of Albin in the top of the first inning. Senior shortstop Danielle Basciano (Holmes, N.Y.) led off the game with a double to right-field, and scored on an RBI-groundout from senior centerfielder Jackie Zilnicki (Riverhead, N.Y.) for the early 1-0 advantage.
Keene State answered in the bottom half of the first, as senior first-baseman Haley Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) homered to centerfield, for her team-leading seventh round-tripper of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
KSC would take the lead in the top of the third inning, as junior catcher Nicole Dupuis (Fitchburg, Mass.) would earn an RBI-walk with the bases loaded, and junior left fielder Kayla Joyce (Bridgewater, Mass.) would lace an RBI-single through the right-side of the infield, to give KSC the 3-1 advantage.
The Colonials threatened in the sixth, as Basciano would advance to third base on a sacrifice bunt with only one out. The next batter, Zilnicki hit a ground ball to the first baseman Haley Chandler, who threw home to get Basciano at the plate and keep the 3-1 lead intact. "The defense played well behind me," said Albin.
Colonial pinch-hitter Jessica Caturano (Holbrook, N.Y.) reached base in the top of the seventh with a single down the right-field line, but Albin retired the side, ending the game with her fifth strikeout of the contest, and preserving the 3-1 LEC tournament victory.