Softball: Seniors Savor Key Little East Sweep of Owls in Regular-Season Home Finale

For (from left) Kayla Santos, Jackie Lewis and Calli Duthrie, happiness is sweeping Keene State on Seniors' Day in the final regular-season home appearances of their careers (Photo by Ryan Coppinger)
For (from left) Kayla Santos, Jackie Lewis and Calli Duthrie, happiness is sweeping Keene State on Seniors' Day in the final regular-season home appearances of their careers (Photo by Ryan Coppinger)

MANSFIELD, Conn. – Junior catcher Megan Hodgdon (Cheshire) singled off the right-center field fence with none out in the bottom of the eighth inning for her second walk-off hit in a week to give the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team a 1-0 victory over Keene State College and an eventual sweep of Thursday night's Little East Conference doubleheader at Clyde Washburne Field.

In the second game, Eastern (25-9, 10-4 LEC) erased an early three-run deficit and sophomore rightfielder Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington) doubled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning in a 6-5 victory.

It marked the first time that Eastern has swept Keene State in one-run decisions since 2007, when the Warriors posted 1-0, 2-1 decisions at home. Following the sweep, Eastern recognized its three outgoing seniors and their families: Calli Duthrie (Griswold), Jackie Lewis (Mystic), and Kayla Santos (Peabody, MA).

With two LEC regular-season games remaining Saturday at defending regular-season champion Plymouth State University, Eastern tightens its hold on second place in the conference, .360 percentage points behind leader Massachusetts Dartmouth (9-3 LEC). UMass closes out its LEC regular-season slate with home doubleheaders Saturday against Keene State (10-18, 5-7 LEC) and Sunday against Western Connecticut (5-7 LEC).

The top seed hosts the six-team, double-elimination LEC tournament  May 2-4.

In the opener, sophomore righty Morgan Bolduk (Vernon) chalked up her 11th win this year without a loss, allowing only one hit and three baserunners in lowering her ERA to 0.71 and exceeding the career 20-win plateau with her 21st triumph.

Bolduk retired the first nine batters before sophomore leadoff hitter Cassie Woods singled leading off the fourth on a sharp ground ball that handcuffed Lewis at second. In a scoreless game, an infield error allowed put the go-ahead run aboard in the eighth, but Bolduk got an infield ground ball and infield popup and an inning-ending ground ball to Lewis to strand the go-ahead run on second.

Eastern won the first game in the eighth when junior shortstop Sara Pisanelli (Wallingford) stroked an opposite-field single to right to open the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on junior centerfielder Sabrina LeMere's (Northford) two-strike single, and freshman pinch runner Laura Zenk (Hermon, ME) raced home on Hodgdon's long blast off the wall on a one-strike pitch.

In the second game, Bolduk earned her third save of the season in support of junior lefty Morgan Sanson (Thomaston), who allowed only one (unearned run) on two hits over four innings in relief of junior righty starter Haleigh Cardello (Litchfield, NH) for her seventh win in 11 decisions.  Bolduk replaced Cardello while Keene was scoring three times in the second to take a 4-1 lead and got the final three outs before giving way to Sanson. Bolduk returned in the seventh to preserve Eastern's 6-5 lead, allowing a two-out single but ending the game by getting No. 3 hitter Emma Pede on a ground ball to freshman first baseman  Brooke Matyasovsky (Orange).

Down 5-3 after three innings, the Warriors got one back in the fourth on two infield singles and two sacrifice bunts and an infield throwing error, and tied the game in the fifth on sophomore pinch hitter Kat Devolve's (Plainfield) two-out, two-strike opposite-field single to right.

Batting for the first time since March 27, Bolduk had three hits, as did Pisanelli, who also doubled. Tyrrell, and Duthrie each added two hits, with Duthrie, the leftfielder, scoring twice and driving in a run in the second game. As the No. 9 hitter, Duthrie singled to center on an 0-2 pitch in Eastern's two-run second inning in the second game, had a sacrifice bunt that built the run in the fourth, and dropped an opposite-field single to left leading off the sixth and later scored from second on Tyrrell's sixth-inning, go-ahead double.

Sophomore pitcher/first baseman Alexis Blanchette, Pede and Woods all had two hits for Keene, which was coming off splits in each of its last two LEC doubleheaders. 

Blanchette drove in two of Keene's runs and scored once in the second game. Junior  infielder Courtney Votto and Blanchette each laced RBI doubles in Keene's three-run second inning, and Blanchette added a two-out run-scoring single in the third that made it 5-3 in the third.