KEENE, NH– The Keene State College women's softball team swept Husson University in The Owls' home season-opener at a windy Owl Athletic Complex on Sunday, taking the first game 8-5 and winning the nightcap 5-4.
Husson fallst to 5-10 after the double header, while Keene State, winner of five of its last six games. "Husson has won its conference and been to the NCAA regional tournament the past two years, so I expected a couple of very competitive games," said KSC Coach Charlie Beach. And Beach was right. The Owls had to battle for both wins.
Husson Jumped ahead 1-0 in the first, but the Owls got the run right back in the bottom of the inning on a RBI single. The Owls pulled ahead in the second courtesy of the long ball. With two outs, sophomore Kayla Joyce (Bridgewater, MA) hit a solo shot, her first of the season, to make it 2-1. Coming up with the bases loaded, junior Sara Stocklinski(Newton, N.J.) drove the ball over the left field fence for a grand slam home run to make 6-1.
With runners on first and second, sophomore Jessica Fiorenza (Wakefield, MA) made a diving catch in centerfield to keep the Eagles off the board in the top of the third.
A two-run home run by Husson freshman Rebecca McCarty (Skowhegan, ME) made it 6-3 in the fourth. The Owls got out of the inning on a nifty double play. Junior Amanda Gifford (Lee, Me.) was out at first on a bunt attempt and junior Brianna Webster (Belfast, R.I.) was tagged out at third by Joyce who came in from left field to cover the bag.
KSC added to its lead in fourth on a RBI single by Dupuis to make it 7-3.
Junior Samantha Pratt (Bristol, CT) came into pitch in the fifth for KSC and the first batter she faced was senior Dottie Cameron (South Plainfield, NJ), who greeted her with a two-run home run to cut the lead to 7-5.
Both team flashed some leather on Sunday; In the fifth, Eagle sophomore shortstop Aimee Mortensen (Biddeford, ME) made a terrific diving stab on a drive off the bat of Joyce. One batter later freshman Elissa Coburn made it 8-5 with an RBI single.
Senior Megan Richard (Wilton, ME) had two of the Eagles' seven hits in the first game, while the top of the order did the damage for KSC in the opener with junior Haley Chandler (Wakefield, MA) and Dupuis each collecting three hits. Fiorenza and Stocklinski both had two hits.
Junior pitcher Emily Albin (Bethel, CT) had a solid start and Joyce belted her second home run of the afternoon to lead Keene State to the win in the second game.
The Owls jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a bunt single by Stocklinski and sacrifice fly from Dupuis. KSC added one more run in the second on a drag bunt single by freshman Julia Gray (Windham, NH). Joyce put the Owls up 5-0 in the fourth with a two-run shot over the fence in centerfield.
"Kayla Joyce is one of the strongest players I've had in the program," said Beach. "It's frightening how far she can hit the ball. I think those ball would have gone out despite the wind."
Albin got some help from her defense in the fifth inning when Gray made a nice sliding catch on a sinking drive by sophomore Kara Poirier (Berlin, N.H.) in right field. That play saved at least a run because the next batter Webster hit a two-run home run to get the Eagles on the board, making it 5-2.
The Eagles didn't fly away, scoring two runs in the sixth to cut the Owls' lead to 5-4.
Chandler made a nice play in the top of seventh, ranging back to grab a line shot off the bat of Mortensen. That proved to be a big play. Two batters later, freshman Kelly Naegelin (Cohasset, Mass.) doubled. Pratt came into pitch for KSC and got Richard to ground out to Dupuis at third to end the game.
Fiorenza and Stocklinski each had two of the Owls' eight hits in the game. Naegelin and Webster each had two hits for Husson.
Albin gave up three runs on six hits in her five innings in the circle, improving her record to 4-2. She struck out five and issued just one walk.
Husson returns home to host an afternoon double header on Tuesday against Bates, the first game is scheduled to start at 4:00pm, while Keen State hosts Westfield State on Thursday at 3;00pm.
Keene State hosts Westfield State on Thursday (3 p.m.).