Muglia

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Junior righthander Alex Hill led Montclair State to a 4-1 victory against Central (Iowa) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Softball Championship at Carson Park on Friday.

Hill tossed a three-hitter and provided offense with a three-run homer and all four RBIs as the Red Hawks (46-3) advanced to the next round on Saturday where they will face Tufts.

Hill, who was named first-team All-American on Thursday, improved to 38-3 on the season as she struck out eight and did not walk a batter. Mallory Schulenberg (16-3) took the loss allowing the three-run homer to her counterpart.

The Dutch (32-9) put a runner on base in the first inning as Emily Te Brink struck out and reached on a passed ball. Te Brink stole second with one out, however the Red Hawks got out of the inning as Hill fanned the next batter with catcher Alisha Cumberton gunning down Te Brink trying to steal third to end the inning.

After threatening in the second, Montclair broke through in the bottom of third. Katie Muglia began the rally with a one-out single down the right field line. Jamie Paulino sacrificed the runner over and Central elected to intentionally walk Dana Amato, putting runners at first and second. The move backfired on the Dutch as Hill drove a 2-1 pitch down the left field over for her second homer of the year as Montclair State took a 3-0 lead.

Central got a run back as they opened the top of the fourth with back-to-back singles. Hill got a pop up for the first out, however an error allowed a run to score, cutting the lead to 3-1. With the tying runs at second and third, Hill fanned the next hitter and got a pop up to end the threat as MSU maintained a two-run lead.

Hill retired 10 batters in a row, adding to the lead in the bottom of the fifth, driving in Paulino with a fielder’s choice.

Hill gave up a single with two out in the top of the seventh, but struck out the final hitter to send MSU on to the next round.

Muglia finished 2-for-4 at the plate.