MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Sophomore righty Morgan Bolduk (Vernon) threw a complete-game four-hitter without allowing an earned run and infielders Jackie Lewis (Mystic) and Sara Pisanelli (Wallingford) drove in runs as the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team trimmed Rowan University, 2-1, in the first game of a best-of-three series at the NCAA Division III Willimantic, Conn. Super Regional Friday afternoon at Clyde Washburne Field.
The game was delated for one hour and 21 minutes by rain with Eastern leading, 1-0, and batting in the top of the fifth.
With its eighth straight post-season win through Little East Conference and NCAA play, Eastern (33-11) moves to within a win of the program's 14th berth in the NCAA national tournament, which gets underway May 23 at Tyler, TX.
The teams meet again Saturday at noon, with a deciding game, if needed, to follow.
Eastern stranded nine runners and committed only its second and third errors in eight post-season games, but never trailed in evening its NCAA post-season record against Rowan (33-14) at 1-1.
Bolduk (19-1) threw her eighth post-season complete game in eight starts, fanning three and walking one. Bolduk threw 70 of her 108 pitches for strikes and her outfielders did not record an out.
Lewis' two-out opposite-field single through the right side scored freshman pinch runner Katelyn Miller (Wallingford) from second with the first run of the game in the top of the fourth, and the Warriors made it 2-0 in the fifth when Bolduk led off with a walk -- and following the rain delay -- moved to second on a wild pitch, and eased home when Pisanelli's opposite-field line drive drew chalk from the right field foul line.
Said 18th-year Eastern head coach Diana Pepin afterward: "We got the clutch hits when we needed them – Jackie Lewis came up huge and Sara Pisanelli came up with another clutch hit, and that's all we needed because we have Morgan Bolduk on the mound and she's throwing well and she's going to compete harder than ever."
At right: Freshman first baseman Brooke Matyasovsky hauls in the final out on this foul ball off the bat of Rowan pinch hitter Alexa Saccomanno. Matasovsky recorded 13 putouts in the field. (Photo by Ryan Coppinger).
Rowan finally broke through in the fifth with its only (unearned run) after Pisanelli initiated a double play at short to help the Warriors escape trouble in the fourth. Sophomore catcher Christina Guarino reached safely with an infield single, and with one out, junior pinch runner Shea Branda moved to third on an infield throwing error. With two out, senior shortstop Carly Anderson (Nutley, NJ) – the team's top hitter at .410 – drove an 0-2 pitch into right field to chase in Branda.
Rowan threatened again in the sixth on sophomore cleanup hitter Kelly Duffy's one-out double to right-center, but Bolduk got an infield ground ball and stranded the tying run on third with a swinging strikeout.
Twenty-third year Rowan head coach Kim Wilson has led the tournament-tested Profs to nine straight NCAA tournaments – including Super Regional championships in two of the last three years – and knows that the series is far from over. In last weekend's Cambridge, MA Regional championship, Rowan scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge Eastern Nazarene College, then went ten innings to blank host MIT, 1-0, and emerged with the title following a 7-6, 14-inning victory in which her team was the visiting team.
"We're going to have to rely upon our ability to have gotten (to the nationals) before. We're not down, we're not out – we'll fight to the last out – so we're alright with (the outcome Friday).
Denied in her bid for a 20th win, Rowan junior righty Jesse DeDomenico (19-8) pitched a complete-game three-hitter with six strikeouts and eight walks, with two of them coming across the plate. DeDomenico threw 100 pitches through five innings, tossing 145 in all, 74 for strikes.
Both Bolduk and DeDomenico were named tournament MVPs at their respective regional tournament last weekend. Rowan won last year's Super Regional on its home field and competed in the NCAA Division III national tournament.
In conference and NCAA post-season, Bolduk is 8-0 with a 0.53 ERA, 36 strikeouts and seven walks in 53.0 innings. She has given up 25 hits, 19 of them singles.