The Central Connecticut softball team topped the number one team in the NEC, Robert Morris, by a score of 3-1 in game one of a doubleheader at the CCSU Softball Field on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils fell in game two by a score of 3-2 after eight innings of play.
Central is now 28-13 overall, 14-4 in the NEC, and RMU is 25-13-1, 11-3 in NEC play.
"We came out strong in game one," Head Coach Jeff Franquet said. "Laura pitched very well today. In the second game, we made some mistakes and let them get ahead in the eighth, but it was a good experience for our younger players and a great level of competition. We are hoping to perform well against Quinnipiac tomorrow as we try to clinch a tournament spot."
Sophomore Laura Messina pitched both games for Central, registering 10 strikeouts, just four shy of breaking her own single-season strikout record. Messina is now 21-9 on the season.
The Blue Devils kicked the game off with high energy and a run by sophomore Kat Malcolm to start Central off with an early 1-0 lead. Malcolm hit a single to the pitcher and motored around the bases and across the plate after an overthrow to first.
Central added two more in the bottom of the third when freshman Brittany Ernst led off the inning with a bunt single. She advanced to second on an Arielle Bruno sacrifice bunt and scored on a double by Malcolm. Senior Nicole Springer shot a single through the right side to score Malcolm and elevate the Blue Devil lead to three.
The Colonials threatened in the top of the seventh, landing four runners on base, but they were able to plate only one before the game's end.
The Colonials were the first to score on a lead-off home run in the top of the first by Ashley Gerhart taking a 1-0 lead. The Blue Devils tied it up in the bottom of the third, however when Springer sent a single deep to right field to drive in Ernst, who reached on a single down the left line.
Central had a chance to pull off the win in the bottom of the seventh when back-to-back singles by Malcolm and Springer landed runners on first and third, however, both were left on base at the conclusion of the inning to send the teams into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, RMU scored two on a two-out double to center field to take the lead 3-1.
The Blue Devils responded in the bottom of the eighth with a lead-off homer from Barlow to narrow the deficit to one for the final score of the game.
Central posted 14 hits over both games and left 12 runners stranded on base. The Blue Devils travel to Quinnipiac tomorrow for their last NEC regular-season match-up of the season. The doubleheader is set to begin at 12 p.m.