After falling to #10 LSU on Friday in their first NCAA tournament game, the Central Connecticut softball team put on a redeeming show, topping the Northwestern State Lady Demons (40-15, 18-7 SLC) by a score of 9-1 on Saturday for their first NCAA tournament victory. In the win, the Blue Devils (36-14, 16-4 NEC) posted their sixth-consecutive game with at least one home run and sophomore Laura Messina earned her 50th career win.
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Messina pitched all seven innings for the Blue Devils. She faced 27 batters, walking only two and striking out three. She allowed just three hits and her record improves to 28-10 on the season. The sophomore increased her CCSU career win record to 50.
In the top of the first, junior Arielle Bruno followed up yesterday's impressive homer by scoring the first run of the game against NSU. She reached base on a walk, stole second and crossed the plate on a double to left field by senior Nicole Springer, her 13th of the season. Springer scored on a rip up the middle by junior Tessa Brown with two outs to increase the Blue Devil lead to two.
Central added two more before the half-inning's end when a single from freshman Eileen Purcell brought in Brown and freshman Evie Rentzel to increase the lead to four. The Blue Devils headed into the bottom of the first with a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, Rentzel and freshman Hannah Cooper put forth extraordinary efforts to snag two balls in foul territory. The Lady Demons were able to get a runner to third, but she was stranded after Messina registered her first strikeout of the game.
The Blue Devils struck again in the top of the second, adding three more runs to the board. Bruno sent a shot deep to right center that was just inches from making it over the wall, landing her on third for her first triple of the season. With just one out on the board, sophomore Kat Malcolm laid down a well-placed bunt to score Bruno and increase the Blue Devil lead to five.
A single by Springer, her second consecutive hit of the game, drove Malcolm in to increase the lead to six and was followed by a shot over the third baseman to send Springer across the plate. Messina took to the circle in the bottom of the second with a seven run cushion.
Central added one more run to its commanding lead in the top of the fifth. Freshman Hannah Cooper blasted a double to left and was replaced on base by freshman Katie Schmidt. Schmidt was advanced by Bruno and plated by Malcolm to notch the Blue Devils' eighth run.
Freshman shortstop Eileen Purcell, who made several impressive diving plays throughout the game, sent a homer over the left field wall in the top of the seventh to add another run to the board for Central and notch her third home run of the season.
The Blue Devils posted 10 hits on the day, including four extra base hits. The Lady Demons posted just three hits on the day.
With the win, CCSU earns another opportunity to continue competition for the NCAA Regional Championship. The Blue Devils will face LSU for the second time this weekend to battle for the chance to go to the championship game on Sunday against UL-Lafayette.
The first pitch for tonight's game vs. LSU is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (6:05 p.m. CDT). Fans can watch the game live on LSUsports.net GeauxZone HERE. Blue Devil fans can also follow all of the action via LIVE STATS and on Twitter @CCSUBlueDevils.