NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - The Keene State College softball team's Little East Conference playoff hopes took a hit on Saturday afternoon, as they fell 9-0 in six innings and 4-0 in a doubleheader at UMass Dartmouth.
- Keene State: 10-20, 5-9 LEC
- UMass Dartmouth: 21-15, 11-3 LEC
How It Happened - Game One
As became the case throughout the day, the Owl offense could not solve Corsair pitching, and the home team piled on six runs over the fifth and sixth innings to run away with a win in the opener. Keene State was limited to five hits, two coming from Olivia McGrath. Emma Pede doubled while going 1-for-2, and Cassie Woods and Brooke Arruda each singled, with Woods also working a walk. Jill Richards helped her cause in the circle for UMD by driving in three runs at the plate. Rachel Pereira had two RBI.
Keene State did threaten in the very first inning of the afternoon, as Woods walked to start the game and moved to second after Molly St. Germain reached on an error by Averi Soares. However, a pair of strikeouts and a line drive back at Richards off the bat of Lauren Rousseau ended the frame. UMD wasted little time taking the lead in their half of the first, as Pereira doubled and moved to third on Nicole McSweeney's single. A dropped throw after a pop out to second put the Corsairs on the board, and Autumn Medeiros' double later in the inning made it 2-0. The Owls put a baserunner on in every inning, but never could score. One of their better chances of the contest came in the second when McGrath singled to lead off the inning, and Pede later doubled with two down, but a grounder to short stifled the rally. Trailing 3-0 after Richards' RBI double in the third, KSC got another leadoff hit from McGrath, but she advanced no further, and the same happened after Woods' single started the fifth. UMass Dartmouth blew the game open in the ensuing two innings, as Pereira's homer to left and a miscue helped make it 5-0 through five before the Corsairs tacked on four more runs in the sixth.
St. Germain (5-1) pitched all 5 2/3 innings and took the loss for the Owls, striking out three. Richards improved to 8-8 after allowing five hits in five innings while also recording five strikeouts. Keene State stranded eight baserunners in six innings at the plate.
How It Happened - Game Two
Richards was again the story in the second game, as she allowed just three hits over six innings of work to help guide UMD to the sweep. Woods went 2-for-3 and McGrath doubled in a 1-for-3 effort, but that accounted for three of the Owls' four hits in the game. Pereira had three more hits for the Corsairs, while Leah Major drove in two runs.
Once again, KSC put the very first batter of the game on base, as Woods singled to lead things off, but the Owls went down in order after that and the teams exchanged zeroes over the first two innings, with McGrath stranding a pair in UMD's half of the second. The same did not happen in the bottom of the third. Pereira singled up the middle to lead off the frame and McSweeney followed with an infield hit to short. A productive out that followed proved to be key, as UMass Dartmouth scored a pair after Richards' grounder to first was mishandled and Medeiros executed a squeeze bunt down the first base line. Trailing 2-0, the Owls continued to be in search of offense, but it never came. St. Germain worked a walk to kick off the fourth, but was immediately erased on a double play, and McGrath's double to left with one down in the fifth also went by the boards. UMass Dartmouth added to their lead in the fourth when Major's sac fly plated a third run, and she drove in another in the sixth with a double to left that made it 4-0. Keene State got singles from Woods in the sixth and Courtney Votto in the seventh, but could not avoid the shutout, as a caught stealing after a strikeout ended the game.
Alexis Blanchette (2-6) started in the circle and went four innings, allowing three runs (none earned) while striking out two. Richards (9-8) went six innings, surrendering just three hits with four whiffs.
Around the Horn
- The Owls will now need to sweep Rhode Island College in their final conference doubleheader of the season tomorrow, while also having Western Connecticut State University drop a pair at UMass Dartmouth, to clinch the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Little East tournament. Any other result will knock KSC out of playoff contention, as playoff tiebreaker scenarios do not favor the Owls.
- Woods now has a hit in 12 of her last 13 games dating back to April 10 and is hitting .405 with a .516 on-base percentage this season.
- As mentioned, Keene State will host Rhode Island College in their home and conference finale tomorrow, April 28, starting at 12:00 pm. The time has been moved up from the originally scheduled 2:00 pm first pitch.
- The Owls will now be looking for help from UMass Dartmouth, who can clinch the LEC regular season title with one win tomorrow at home against Western Connecticut. That doubleheader starts at 1:00 pm. KSC needs UMD to take both games from the Colonials in order to have a chance at finishing sixth.