Junior Nicole Springer blasted her second walk-off home run of the season to cap a doubleheader sweep for the Central Connecticut softball team. Freshman Laura Messina earned the victory in the circle in both games for the Blue Devils (18-10), who defeated the Fairfield Stags (12-14), 2-0 and 8-5.
Messina dominated the Stags to earn the victory in game one. She recorded a career-high 13 strike outs on the way to her fifth complete game shutout of the season. She limited the Stags to just four hits and a pair of walks over her seven innings.
Fairfield starter Rebecca Trott also impressed over the first five innings as she limited the Blue Devils to just five hits and no runs.
However, in the sixth inning Central broke loose with three hits that plated a pair of runs.
Sophomore Tessa Brown started the inning with a single up the middle and Springer quickly followed with a line drive base hit to right field. Senior Sarah Emery who pinch-ran for Brown advanced to third on Springer's hit. Sophomore Emily Pogemiller replaced Springer on the bases and advanced to second on a ground out by senior Macy Stefanski. Freshman Alyssa McCoart lined a single to center plating a pair of runs giving the Blue Devils their first lead of the game.
Messina had no problem protecting Central's 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh. She allowed a lead off single, but then recorded a pair of strike outs and a foul pop-up to close out the game.
Messina improved to 11-4 on the season with the victory.
McCoart was the only Central player to record multiple hits or RBI in the game, she finished with two of each.
The Blue Devils erased 3-0, 4-2 and 5-4 deficits during game two, but Central still found themselves tied, 5-5, with the Stags in the bottom of the seventh. Emery pinch hit to start the inning, and reached base on an error. Sophomore Arielle Bruno dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance Emery to second with and with one out the Stags intentionally walked senior Rebecca Mussatti setting up first and second. Following a strikeout, Springer stepped to the plate with two on and two out. For the second time this season Springer delivered, lining a home run to center field that fell just short of hitting the CCSU scoreboard.
The three-run blast was Springer's second walk-off and fifth total home run of the season. She had hit her fourth homer of the year earlier in the game.
Springer's first home run of the game got the Blue Devils on the board in the second inning. Senior Sarah Vlahos followed with an RBI double later in the frame, which cut the deficit to 3-2.
A single run by the Stags in the third put the Blue Devils behind 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third.
Central took its first lead of the game in that inning as Mussatti, Bruno led off the inning with a double, launched a long two run home run to right center. Following a double by Springer and a single by McCoart, Stefanski knocked in a run with an RBI ground out to cap the three run inning.
Fairfield would tie the game with a single run in the fifth inning against sophomore starter Julie Marks. Head coah Jeff Franquet called on Messina to finish the frame without further damage.
"Laura did a great job coming into that situation and shutting the door," Franquet said after the game. "After dropping two games on Sunday, I did not want to see a win slip away from us again today."
Messina pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh to send the game into the final at bat tied.
"Nicole got a great pitch to drive and she didn't miss it. She has been extremely clutch late in games this year," Franquet added.
Springer finished the game with three hits, two home runs and a double. She also drove in four runs in the game, giving her 23 RBI on the season.
McCoart and Vlahos also had multi-hit games and Mussatti drove in two runs. The home run was the first of the year for Mussatti.
Messina finished the day with 9.2 innings pitched and no runs allowed. In game two, she did not allow a hit while striking out five. On the day, she won both games and posted 18 strike outs to just two walks. Her record now stands at 12-4 on the season.
The Blue Devils return to action on Saturday in a doubleheader against LIU Brooklyn and then close the week with a doubleheader on Sunday againt Mount St. Mary's.