MONTCLAIR, N.J. - Montclair State University piled on runs late in both ends of a doubleheader to hand the Keene State College softball team a pair of losses, 11-3 and 5-1, on Saturday afternoon at MSU Softball Stadium.
- Keene State: 4-8
- Montclair State: 11-3
How It Happened - Game One
KSC had two different leads in the early going, but the Red Hawks responded each time and tacked on runs late to win the first game. The Owls got a 3-for-4 effort from Molly St. Germain at the plate, including a double. Meghan Moran went 2-for-3 and also recorded a double, as did Emma Pede in a 1-for-3 showing. Amber Powers had four hits and four RBI out of the top spot of the lineup for Montclair.
After both teams put a pair of runners on in the first inning but did not score, the Owls struck first in the top of the second. Alexis Blanchette was hit by a pitch to start the frame and moved up with two outs after Cassie Woods was also plunked. Julie Elwell's infield single loaded the bases, and KSC went up 1-0 after Taylor Brown couldn't handle St. Germain's grounder to second. The one run was all the Owls could manage, and the Red Hawks hit right back when Lia Stamile homered to left center to lead off the bottom of the second. The hosts threatened for more, putting two on, but St. Germain got a fly out to end the frame. The Owls broke the 1-1 tie quickly, going ahead again with a pair of doubles in the third. Moran's two-bagger with one out put a runner in scoring position, and she was brought home when Pede did the same for a 2-1 edge. St. Germain sent Montclair down in order in their half of the inning to keep the lead, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth when the Red Hawks scored five times. A walk and a bunt single started the inning and, after a sacrifice, four consecutive singles plated four for a 5-2 MSU lead. Leading 6-2 after putting up a zero in the top of the fifth, the Red Hawks pulled away with two more in their half of the same inning and three in the sixth. Trailing by six entering the sixth, the Owls made it 8-3 after St. Germain reached on a bunt single and Woods scored on a subsequent throwing error, and still had two on with a chance to get closer, but a pair of fielder's choices snuffed that out.
St. Germain (2-4) took the loss in a 5 2/3 inning effort. Valentina Cucci improved to 3-0 for Montclair State.
How It Happened - Game Two
The day's second game was lower scoring, but followed a similar script, with the Red Hawks scoring in the final three innings to break open what was a scoreless game after three. Mallory LeBlanc had a pair of hits in three at bats, including a double, for the Owls, while Votto was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base. Elwell also went 1-for-4.
It was a pitcher's duel early, Blanchette and Montclair starter Kiara Ruiz traded zeroes in the first three innings, with the game's first hit not coming until Elwell's single in the top of the third. KSC did threaten in the opening frame after St. Germain and Lauren Rousseau walked, but nothing came of that. Nor did anything come when Montclair drew two free passes in the second. The Owls mounted a significant threat looking to take the lead in their half of the third, as Woods was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Elwell followed with a single to put two on with nobody out. A pair of fielder's choices thereafter left runners at first and third. Votto then swiped second ahead of Rousseau's walk, but KSC stranded three. After a two-out double from LeBlanc in the top of the fourth also went by the boards, Montclair put up two in their half of the inning on two hits and two errors. The Owls halved the deficit right away, as Votto's single brought home Woods, who started things off with a walk, to make it 2-1 in the fifth. Trailing 3-1 in the top of the sixth, KSC generated one final comeback attempt, as Olivia McGrath walked and LeBlanc singled to put two on with one down. However, two strikeouts ended the rally, and the Red Hawks put up two more in the sixth before retiring KSC in order in the seventh.
Blanchette (1-2) allowed just one earned run in 3 1/3 innings, but took the loss. MSU's Ruiz improved to 3-2, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings despite four hits and five walks.
Around the Horn
- The Owls still have four people hitting over .300 on the season, including Votto's team-leading 15-for-36 effort.
- The doubleheader marked KSC's first games outside of the state of Florida this season.
- KSC was Montclair's third LEC opponent thus far on the season. The Red Hawks split the first two meetings, falling to Eastern Connecticut State University before beating UMass Dartmouth.
- Keene State travels to Westfield State University on Thursday, March 28 for a doubleheader that begins at 3:30 pm.
- Montclair State hosts DeSales University tomorrow, March 24, for two starting at 1:00 pm.