NCAA EAST REGIONAL: No. 5 Penmen Get Hot Late, Defeat No. 4 UNH in Nine Innings

NCAA EAST REGIONAL: No. 5 Penmen Get Hot Late, Defeat No. 4 UNH in Nine Innings

WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Six runs in the ninth inning were the difference as the fifth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University softball team defeated the No. 4 hosts New Haven by a score of 9-3 in nine innings Friday afternoon in West Haven, Connecticut. The Penmen win their 30th game of the season, a new program-best, while they up their overall record to 30-13. The Chargers are now 29-17 on the season.

Today marked the fourth time this season the two teams have met, with the most recent matchup last weekend in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship with the Penmen taking a 4-0 victory to win the program's first even league title.

The game started out as a pitching dual between junior Ali Maloof (Norwood, Mass.) and Nicole King of the Chargers, as both pitchers denied any hits in the first two innings and allowed no runs.

However, in the top of the fourth, SNHU's bats started to come alive as Maloof led-off the inning with a double to center field, and advanced to third on a Lindsey Bolduc (Londonderry, N.H.) line out to right field. With two outs, Holly Eicher (Stoneham, Mass.) singled up the middle to score Maloof and give the Penmen a 1-0 lead on the Chargers.

New Haven answered recording its first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth when Jess Spivey homered to left center to tie up the game at 1-1.

The game did not stay knotted up for long as Southern New Hampshire scored two more runs in the top of the fifth to regain its lead. Morgan Farmer (Kingston, N.H.) worked a lead-off walk to start things off and get on base for SNHU. Despite the Chargers retiring the next two batters, Mo Hannan (Scarborough, Maine) singled to the pitcher to move Farmer to second, and Maloof followed with a walk to load the bases. Katie Caruso (Newton, Mass.) then hit a two-out single to score Hannan and Farmer, and the Penmen took a 3-1 lead.

Southern New Hampshire took what seemed to be a safe two-run lead into the bottom of the sixth, but New Haven countered once again tying the game up with another homerun. Maloof struck out the lead-off batter, but put Spivey on base after hitting her with a full count. The Penmen then got a second out, but Fisher followed with a two-run homerun to left field to tie the game up at 3-3 going into the final inning.

Neither team was able to score in the seventh, and extra innings were forced.

After a scoreless eighth, the visitors scored six runs on five hits all with two outs in the top of the ninth to take the game. After a pair of groundouts, Maloof and Caruso both walked, and Bolduc singled to load the bases for Eicher, who already registered an RBI in the fourth. With the bases juiced, Eicher singled up the middle and advanced to second on the throw. Maloof crossed the plate to take a one-run lead at 4-3, and a Chargers' throwing error allowed for Caruso to score as well to go up 5-3. The bats did not stop there as Cara Daly (Plainville, Mass.) doubled to left center to score Eicher and Bolduc to make it 7-3, and Stanasek doubled to score two more to build the biggest lead of the game at 9-3.

New Haven was unable to come up with any runs in the bottom of the inning.

Maloof pitched all nine innings, recording eight strikeouts and only allowing three hits and three runs, while King gave up 11 hits and struck out three.

The Penmen will face top-seeded LIU Post, which defeated No. 8 Wilmington in a 1-0 thriller in the first game of the day, for an 11:00 a.m. game tomorrow at UNH Softball Field. The Chargers will play in an elimination game at 1:30 against the Wildcats.

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