KEENE, N.H. – The Keene State College softball team kicked off a stretch of six Little East Conference games in four days on the right foot, as the Owls swept Castleton University 4-3 in eight innings and 11-3 in five innings Thursday afternoon at Owl Athletic Complex.
- Keene State: 8-12, 3-1 LEC
- Castleton: 7-14, 1-7 LEC
How It Happened - Game One
After Keene State found themselves facing a one-run deficit twice in the late innings, the Owls rallied to take the first game by scoring once in the seventh and twice in the eighth. Nine of KSC's 12 hits in the contest came from three people, as Brooke Arruda, Olivia McGrath, and Cassie Woods all went 3-for-4, with Woods providing a two-run walk-off single for the win in the eighth.
It was a low-scoring contest for the first five innings, as the only run for either side came when the sizzling bat of Woods doubled home McGrath in the second for a 1-0 KSC lead. Other than that, KSC starter Molly St. Germain and Castleton starter Machaila Arjavich traded zeroes, with the Spartans not getting their first hit until the top of the third when Kate LaPan singled. The Owls stranded a pair in the first, while both teams did so in the third. Castleton went out in front in the sixth, as a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, both of whom scored on Devin Millerick's double to center. Trailing 2-1 after going down in order in the sixth and escaping trouble in the seventh, KSC rallied in their last chance.
Woods started the frame with yet another double and eventually scored on a pair of groundouts. Emma Pede singled with two down to put the winning run on, but a fielder's choice sent the game to extras. The Spartans edged in front once more in the top of the eighth, as Miranda Fish singled and Tori Swaine walked to produce an immediate threat, which was capitalized on when Millerick moved the runners over ahead of Jamie Boyle's sac fly. Once again facing a deficit, Keene State had one last rally. Courtney Votto and Lauren Rousseau kicked things off with a single and walk, respectively, and McGrath tied the game at three with a single up the middle. After a productive out from Paige Gouldthorpe moved two runners into scoring position, Woods walked it off with a line drive single to left.
St. Germain pitched all eight innings, allowing three earned runs to improve to 4-5. Kylie Wright fell to 4-6 for Castleton, allowing five hits and three runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief.
How It Happened - Game Two
The second game was a much different story, as Keene State never trailed and scored in three of the four innings at the plate in the mercy-rule shortened win. Woods went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while five other Owls had a pair of hits as KSC banged out 14 in the game. Alexis Blanchette started in the circle and also had two hits and two RBI in three at bats at the plate. Kat Iozzo delivered a bases-clearing triple.
Keene State was ahead immediately, as they used four hits and aggressive baserunning to take a 3-0 advantage in the first inning, which was highlighted by St. Germain's steal of home and Blanchette's RBI single. The Spartans, for the moment, answered to even up the game with a three-spot of their own in the third. A single, walk, and double made it 3-2 before it was even after a KSC fielding error. The tie did not last for long, though, as six consecutive Owl hits blew the game open after the first batter in the bottom of the third was retired. McGrath's single started the uprising, and was followed later by Blanchette's run-scoring single and Iozzo's three-run triple. Woods then made it 8-3 with her third double of the day and fourth in the last three games. KSC cruised from there, scoring three more times in their half of the fourth for an eight-run edge. McGrath (2-3) wrapped up the sweep with a clean fifth in the circle, and wound up picking up the win after pitching 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief. Castleton's Wright (4-7) took another loss, allowing six runs on eight hits in two innings in relief of Emily Harvey.
Around the Horn
- Woods has seven hits - four doubles and one triple - in her last nine at bats, while driving in seven runs. She is now hitting .360 on the season and has a team-high 15 RBI.
- The Owls' 14 hits in game two were a season-high. They have recorded double-digit hits in eight games this season.
- Five of KSC's last seven games have either gone to extra innings or been shortened due to the run rule or darkness.
- Keene State travels to UMass Boston on Saturday, April 13 for a conference twinbill that begins at 1:00 pm.
- Castleton hosts Eastern Connecticut State University for two on the same day and time.