KEENE, N.H. — The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth softball team clinched the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Little East Conference Softball Championship tournament this evening with a split at Keene State College. The Corsairs secured their highest postseason seed with a 1-0 victory in Game 1, while the Owls won the finale 3-1.
UMass Dartmouth completed the conference circuit with a 7-7 record to put an additional two wins between the previous Little East standard (2001, 5-9). The Corsairs will face third-seeded Western Connecticut State University in Game 3 of the conference championship tournament on Thursday, May 1. Eastern Connecticut State University will host the six-team, double elimination tournament.
UMass Dartmouth 1 Keene State College 0
Sophomore Shannon Orton (Swansea, Mass./Joseph Case) outduelled Owls' starting pitcher Ashlee McGan (Southampton, Mass.) to record her ninth win of the season. Orton stymied the Keene State offensive attack, limiting the hosts to three hits and two walks, while striking out six batters.
The Corsairs got the only run of the game in the fifth inning. Sophomore Kayla Kirby (Westport, Mass.) led off with a walk and moved to second on a single through the left side from classmate Shannon Droney (Franklin, Mass.). Senior Emily Pontes (Tewksbury, Mass.) loaded the bases with a bunt single, while freshman Ally Santerre (Swansea, Mass./Joseph Case) lifted a sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive in Kirby.
Orton was able to work out of a seventh-inning jam to earn her third complete-game shutout against a Little East opponent.
McGan was the hard-luck loser, allowing just six hits and three walks in the complete-game effort.
Keene State College 3 UMass Dartmouth 1
Sophomore Mariah Crisp (Greenland, N.H.) spun a gem to strong-arm Keene State to a 3-1 victory and the fifth seed in the conference tournament. The 2013 Little East Rookie of the Year surrendered just three hits and did not issue a walk, while firing 11 strikeouts.
The Owls cracked the scoring column in the bottom of the first as the first two batters registered back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. With one out, sophomore Morgan Fallon (Reading, Mass.) produced a RBI-single to open the scoring. Keene State used a double steal to push across its second run with junior Sara Bracken (Windham, N.H.) swiping home.
The hosts tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to extend their lead to 3-0.
UMass Dartmouth was finally able to solve Crisp in the top of the sixth as the Corsairs were able to take advantage of a KSC defensive miscue. Santerre singled up the middle to score Droney. Senior Bre Marcyoniak (Westfield, Mass.) followed suit with a single to right field and both runners moved into scoring position on a pop fly to the catcher. The visitors were unable to deliver the key hit as UMD flew out to left field to end the threat.
Orton was saddled with the loss in Game 2, giving up five hits, two earned runs, and a walk in five innings. Freshman Marissa Spinuzzi (Fair Lawn, N.J.) did not allow a hit in a scoreless inning of relief.
Keene State will face second-seeded Plymouth State University in Game 2 of the 2014 Little East Softball Championship tournament on Thursday.