Softball Sweeps LIU; Opens NEC Play 4-0

Steve McLaughlin Photo

The Central Connecticut softball team earned two Northeast Conference victories Sunday afternoon against defending NEC Champion LIU Brooklyn (4-27) including a 5-0 shutout. The Blue Devils were efficient at the plate tallying 18 hits including four home runs. CCSU was led by junior Arielle Bruno who launched a three-run homer in game one and a solo homer in game two, tying her for fifth in Central history with 14. CCSU is 4-0 in conference play and 12-9 overall.

"Any time a team can start conference play with four wins is great" Head Coach Jeff Franquet said. "We definitely accomplished our goal this weekend and I am proud of how well our team played both at the plate and on the field."

Sophomore Laura Messina earns both wins for the Blue Devils, pitching a total of 13 innings. She went 4-0 this weekend and her season record improves to 8-5. Messina struck out 12 Blackbird batters, walked two and allowed only one run to cross the plate. With the 5-0 shutout in game two, Messina is tied with the CCSU career shutout record at 10.

Game 1

The Blue Devils were the first to get on the board on a single by freshman Hannah Cooper in the top of the second inning. Junior Tessa Brown, who reached base on a single to second, was replaced on first by senior pinch-runner Sarah Emery. Emery scored on Cooper's hit to put Central up 1-0.

The Blackbirds responded in the bottom of the fourth when a single up the middle drove in the tying run.

In the top of the fifth, freshman Eileen Purcell ripped a single up the middle to reach base. She was replaced on first by freshman Brittany Ernst who made her way around the bases and scored on a two-out shot up the middle by Bruno.

The Blue Devils broke the game open in the sixth inning with a dominating performance at the plate driving in seven runs to put Central on top 9-1.

Freshman Evie Rentzel, who posted six RBI against Wagner yesterday, notched another on a single to center field plating Brown, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Rentzel's hit was followed by a Cooper single to right field. She drove in senior Kelsey Barlow who had reached on a single. Continuing the rally was Purcell who sent a double down the left field line to drive in Rentzel and Cooper, putting CCSU up 6-1.

Senior Stephanie Chotkevys followed up the play earning a walk and with one out and two on base, Bruno ripped her 13th career home run. She sent the three-run bomb over the right-field fence to total four RBI on the day and end the scoring 9-1.

The Blue Devil defense held strong and allowed no runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game on an eight run rule.

Game 2

After five scoreless innings, the Blue Devils, once again, went on a sixth-inning rally that resulted in four runs for Central to put CCSU on the board first.

Bruno opened the inning with a solo bomb over the center-field fence to put CCSU up 1-0 and was followed by three consecutive hits. Sophomore Kat Malcolm singled, senior Nicole Springer doubled to right center and Brown smacked the fifth home run of her career to bring Malcolm and pinch-runner, Emery, across the plate, 4-0 Central.

In the top of the seventh, freshman Eileen Purcell blasted her first career home run to center field to increase the Blue Devil lead to 5-0.  

Central was able to hold the lead throughout the seventh inning and close the first weekend of conference play with a perfect 4-0 record.

The Blue Devils return to action Wednesday, March 27, against the Holy Cross Crusaders at the CCSU Softball Field in New Britain, CT. The doubleheader is set to begin at 3 p.m.