Before the game started, the season long awards were given out and Kat Malcolm collected some hardware.
The sophomore center fielder was named First Team All-Conference, Most Improved Player and Player of the Year and when the game was over, she was NEC Front Row’s Player of the Game.
With no outs in the bottom of the first, Malcolm came to the plate with Arielle Bruno on first. She blasted her 10th home run of the year high on the hill in center field to give the Blue Devils a quick 2-0 lead.
This lead would be important if you look at history. Back on April 14, when these two teams met in New Jersey, the pitching match-up was the same and would tell the story. Lauren Sulick and Laura Messina would combine for 19 1/3 innings, 10 hits, 3 walks, 18 strikeouts and ONE run. That lone run came in the bottom of the tenth off the bat of Kaitie Schumacher of Monmouth.
Sulick, brought the fourth best ERA in the conference to today’s game against the winningest pitcher in the conference in Messina; a pitcher’s duel was expected.
Monmouth collected a hit in the second, but Messina struck out the other three batters and then in the bottom of the inning CCSU got runners on first and second, but couldn’t extend the lead. Both teams went down in order in the third.
It seemed like Sulick had settled in until the bottom of the fourth when the Blue Devils put together three hits and a walk on their way to three more runs. Stephanie Chotkevys singled to begin the inning and was pinch run for by Katie Schmidt. With one out, Bruno walked and Malcolm followed with a run scoring single up the middle, her third RBI of the day. Springer continued the inning with a RBI single of her own to right center scoring Bruno. Malcolm came around to score on a sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Kelsey Barlow.
Each pitcher faced the minimum over the next two innings and it looked like Messina would get her 12th shutout of the year until the Hawks mounted somewhat of a rally in the top of the seventh.
Vanessa Cardoza reached on a pop up that fell just out of the reach of Bruno running towards the right field line. Kayla Weiser followed with a single of her own and the run came when Shannon Fitzgerald singled up the middle chasing Cardoza home from second. Messina retired the next three batters in order to claim her 24th victory of the year and the first tournament victory for the Blue Devils in their history.
Messina finished with seven strikeouts in seven innings while allowing only five hits and one walk.
Malcolm’s home run tied the CCSU single-season record which she now shares with teammates Nicole Springer and Kelsey Barlow.
The Blue Devils will play Friday at 10:30 a.m. against the winner of #2 Robert Morris University and #4 LIU-Brooklyn being played right now.