CLERMONT, Fla. – Against a pair of teams receiving votes in the national rankings this week, the Saint Anselm College softball team was defeated 6-2 in eight innings by LIU Post and 9-0 in five innings by Minnesota State in a season-opening split doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon at Legends Way Ballfields.
LIU Post 6, Saint Anselm 2 (8 inn.) | Box
In its season opener, Saint Anselm (0-2) scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to tie LIU Post (4-2), but the Pioneers pushed across four runs in the top of the eighth to claim the victory. Amanda Bickford led the way for the Hawks with a 3-for-4 game at the plate, while Jordan O'Connor and Shannon McLaughlin drove in runs.
In the early innings, both teams had chances to open the scoring, as the Pioneers left six runners on base in the first three innings and the Hawks stranded five. After Sam Hennequin worked her way out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first, Katie Humhej wriggled out of trouble in the bottom of the inning, escaping unscathed after the Hawks had runners on second and third with nobody out.
LIU Post broke the deadlock in the top of the fourth when Kayla McCoy scored all the way from first on a single by Leah Mele to right-center field with two outs. The Pioneers added a second run on a leadoff home run to left by Abbey Fortin to start the top of the fifth.
Down by two with six outs to go, Saint Anselm got to Humhej in the bottom of the sixth to tie it at 2-2. Maggie Murphy started the rally with a single to center and scored on a double by O'Connor to right center with O'Connor moving to third on the throw. After a pitching change, McLaughlin drove in O'Connor with a sacrifice fly to right to tie it up.
With the international tiebreaker in effect in the top of the eighth, LIU Post scored four times to break the tie. With runners on second and third and one out, Mele put the Pioneers ahead 3-2 with a single to shortstop. Two batters later, Julia Seeder plated two with a double to deep center and Fortin followed with a RBI single.
In the bottom of the inning, the Hawks put two on with one out but Ashley Martin induced a double play to end the game. Martin picked up the win with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief for LIU Post.
Hennequin fanned five in four innings of two-run ball for Saint Anselm before giving way to Morgan Perry after Fortin's home run. Perry held LIU Post scoreless for three innings while the Hawks rallied before taking the loss in the eighth.
Minnesota State 9, Saint Anselm 0 (5 inn.) | Box
In the second game of the day, Minnesota State (14-3) scored nine runs over the first three innings and got a two-hit shutout from Libby Bemis to record its eighth-straight victory. Bemis walked just one and struck out four to improve to 7-3 on the season for the Mavericks, with Murphy and Megan Murrell providing hits for the Hawks.
Minnesota State jumped out right away with a four-spot in the first inning. After the Mavericks loaded the bases with one out, the Hawks got a force play at home plate for the second out. The next batter, Dana Mogren, hit a ball in the hole that O'Connor made a diving stop on, but Amber Kral beat the throw to third to give Mogren a RBI single. Samantha Bruhmann followed with a bases-clearing triple to cap the four-run frame.
Saint Anselm had its best chance to score in the top of the second after a walk to Murrell and a Murphy single left runners on first and second with nobody out. Bemis got out of the inning with a fly out to right and a line-drive double play and the Mavericks went on to add three in the bottom of the inning to go up by seven. Ashley Thell knocked in two of the three runs with a bases-loaded double with no outs.
The Mavericks tacked on two unearned runs in the bottom of the third. Bemis retired 11 of the final 12 batters she faced aside from Murrell's two-out booming double to right in the top of the fourth.
Hennequin was effective in relief of Perry, allowing just the two unearned runs in the third over three innings. The senior surrendered just one hit and two walks with four strikeouts.
Saint Anselm returns to action on Thursday, March 9 with games against No. 18 Caldwell at 8 a.m. and Lewis at 1 p.m.