May 21, 2010

By Dan Myers
Special to

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- The Captains scored three runs in the first inning and added five more in the third as Christopher Newport defeated Eastern Connecticut State, 8-0, in five innings Friday in the third of four quarterfinal contests at the NCAA Division III softball championship.

CNU (41-8) scored three runs off two hits and a pair of walks to open the game up early in the first inning, taking advantage of the absence of ECSU star pitcher Molly Rathbun, who did not play because of an illness.

Mary Kennedy led the game off with a walk and stole second base for Christopher Newport. She scored on a double by Ashley Mani. Mani advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI single by Chelsea Mitchell, who stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch.

Then in the bottom half of the third inning, the Captains loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single. With one out, Jennifer Falin doubled to center field, scoring two, to make it 5-0. Taylor Morgan added an RBI single, knocking in two more runs, extending the lead to seven. Renee Ashworth's double knocked in the final run of the inning and the game for the Captains.

Kristen Rowe was on cruise control for each of the first three innings, not allowing a hit and walking just one. Ashley Sullivan got the first hit for the Warriors to open the fourth inning. Katie O'Toole followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position with just one out. But Rowe sandwiched a walk with a ground out to short and a strikeout to keep ECSU (36-5-1) off the board.

Newport went down in order in the fourth inning and ended the game early in the fifth, keeping the Warriors off the scoreboard again, with Rowe working out of a two-out, two-on jam to cap the victory.

On the afternoon, Rowe allowed four hits and walked two while striking out five. Kassondra Silva got the emergency start for the Warriors, going 2 1/3 innings and allowing six runs on three hits and four walks. She struck out two. Christine Akcer [CQ ] pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for ECSU, allowing a pair of runs on three hits. She walked none and fanned two.

The Captains will face the winner of Friday night's East Texas Baptist-Moravian College winner at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. ECSU will face the loser of that game tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the elimination bracket.