Dupuis Leads Owls Past Monks 4-2 in NCAA Regionals
AMHERST, Mass. 5/10/12 – After being absent from the NCAA tournament since 2007, the No. 4 seeded Keene State College softball team opened the 2012 bracket in style, with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over the No. 5 seeded Saint Joseph's College of Maine, on Thursday afternoon at the Amherst College softball field.
"I thought the team handled the thrill of being in the NCAA Tournament very well," said KSC head coach Charlie Beach. "We have been waiting for this for a while."
Advancing in the winner's bracket, the Owls (26-10-1) will face the top-seeded SUNY Cortland Red Dragons (39-8) in game number seven of the regional tournament. That game, originally scheduled for 2 p.m. has been pushed back due to weather delays, and is set to start at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Completing the Owls comeback, Keene State junior catcher Nicole Dupuis (Fitchburg, Mass.) smacked a two-run homer to left-field in the bottom of the fifth inning, to give KSC the 4-2 victory. "Nicole's sacrifice fly earlier in the game was a screamer too," said Beach. "She had the pitcher's number the whole game and put some good swings on the ball today."
Senior starting pitcher Emily Albin (Bethel, Conn.) had another solid outing for the Owls, going seven innings allowing four hits and two runs while striking out six, while continually getting out of jams the entire game. "Emily had a good performance in the circle for us," said Beach. "She was even better when we needed her to be."
Albin made quick work of the St. Joseph hitters, retiring five of the first six by way of the strikeout, before the Monks (33-8) hopped on the scoreboard. Centerfielder and St. Joe's leading hitter Emily Leverone (Hampton, N.H.) ripped a two-run home run to left field for the 2-0 advantage in the top of the third inning. "Albin put the ball where I told her to," said Beach. "I thought because of her big swing she would not be able to catch up to a high fastball, but she did. Sometimes you put the ball right where you want to and it still doesn't work, that's the game."
Keene State answered right back, with Dupuis tying the game in the bottom-half of the inning with a sacrifice-fly to centerfield, scoring senior first baseman Haley Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) to even the game at 2-2. Dupuis finished with a game-high three RBI's for the Owls.
Saint Joseph's knocked on the door in the top of the seventh, when freshman third baseman Kim Jordan (Bangor, Maine) led off the inning with a standup triple. After retiring two consecutive Monks, Leverone stepped to the batter's box as the games potential tying run. Albin battled, getting the St. Joe's slugger to weakly pop out to the second baseman, and ending the game. "I admire the way she got out of jams all game," said Beach of Albin. "She is as tough as nails."
Dupuis officially finished the game 1-for-1 at the plate, with a homer, sac-fly, hit-by-pitch and three RBI's. Senior shortstop Katie Bradford (Lebanon, N.H.) was the lone batter with multiple hits, with a single to left field in the first and bunt single in the third.
Albin earned the win by going the distance, improving to 12-4 on the season.
Monks starting pitcher Maddie Kluna (Standish, Maine) went six innings allowing six hits, foru runs and striking out eight Owls in the losing effort.
In the NCAA Division III Tournament, the Owls improve to 11-10 all-time. The last time Keene State was in the championships in 2007, the Owls defeated Framingham State, but fell to Wellesley and Endicott to be eliminated.
The contest, originally scheduled to start at noon, was pushed back to 5 p.m. due to a rain storm that has soaked the northeast all of Wednesday night and Thursday morning.