As the pack begins to separate in the Northeast Conference, Central Connecticut softball saw itself on the wrong side of the standings after losing three of its four games this weekend.
The Blue Devils traveled to Maryland for the first of two series, taking on fifth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s Saturday for two down to the wire games.
Central had work to do early in their first game, falling behind 3-1 after freshman Kari Marks gave up a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the second. The Blue Devils took advantage of poor defense in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game back up.
Back-to-back batters reached first on fielding errors by the Mountaineers, the second time around also bringing in a run. Freshman Carli Buckland brought in another run in the ensuing at-bat, driving home Alicia Bertolino with a single.
The score would sit tied at three heading into the potential final inning. Despite reaching first through another Mountaineer error, Central was unable to muster a hit in the decisive final frame. The Mount would not take long to end things after this as the first batter Marks faced in the bottom of the seventh hit a walk-off home run to win the game 4-3.
Game two was a similar nail-biter through and through. The Mountaineers would start the scoring off, driving home a run in the third off of Ashley Antonazzo. Bertolino was once again the clutch bat to solve Central’s problem, hitting a solo home run to tie the game in the fifth. The Colonials answered back quickly on a fielder’s choice to regain the lead for the final time, closing out the game 2-1.
The Blue Devils had an ideal matchup following the tough series, taking on a Wagner team with a record only two wins better than them. Sunday’s first game looked more than promising for Central, who dominated the Seahawk pitching staff. The Blue Devils would combine for 14 hits, tacking on run after run against the Wagner defense. Freshman Alexa Milius and Bertolino led the way offensively, each contributing three hits en route to the 6-1 victory.
Marks again appeared on the mound, coming in for an impressive performance in the final four innings. The freshman struck out six and did not allow a run while securing her third win of the season.
Wagner’s bats did not slump the same in the second game of the day. Antonazzo again got the nod on the mound, but only got through 3.1 innings before getting pulled. The pitching change came after the sophomore gave up five runs on six hits. The lead proved insurmountable for the Blue Devils, who came within one after sophomore Meg Dugas and Kristen Ulmer each drove in a run in the top of the sixth. Wagner would again pull away at the bottom of the frame, scoring two more runs.
With only two more conference series remaining on the season, Central has some ground to make up for in the standings. Currently, last with a 3-9 NEC record, the Blue Devils do not have favorable matchups the rest of the way, taking on the top two teams in the conference to finish off the year in Bryant and LIU Brooklyn.