Jordan O’Connor scored the winning run on two Southern Arkansas errors in the bottom of the ninth to give St. Anselm College a 2-1 win in the opener of the NCAA Division II Softball Championship on Thursday in Salem, Va.
O’Connor, a junior, walked with one out and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. Madison Borelli’s ground ball with two outs got through Southern Arkansas shortstop Monica Islava, allowing Borelli, a sophomore from Salem, N.H., to reach and O’Connor to steam for home. Left fielder Brooke Goad’s throw was errant, which let O’Connor score.
The Hawks (41-10-1) trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Erin Thompson, of Newton, a Sanborn Regional High School product, picked a great time to hit her first homer of the season.
The blast to right field broke up the no-hitter try of Southern Arkansas’ Victoria Taylor, and got Thompson’s team back in the game.
“After hitting that, I knew I had brought our team back into the game, and I just knew we were going to win,” Thompson said after the game. “It was kind of surreal. I never thought I would hit a home run at the Women’s College World Series.”
The Muleriders (57-9) got to Hawks pitcher Morgan Perry for a run in the second, but Perry held firm, going all nine innings, scattering six hits, fanning six and walking five.
“The entire day I have been so nervous,” said Perry, a sophomore. “As soon as I threw the first few pitches, I knew this is where I was meant to be.”
“I think Morgan, she just had one of those games where she got stronger as she went,” said Hawks coach Jill Gannon, in her fifth season at the helm. “She always seems to get a huge strikeout when we need it. For (Southern Arkansas) to have only six singles, that’s huge for us.”
The Hawks move on to the tournament winners’ bracket and will play the winner of Thursday night’s game between Chico State and St. Leo at 1:30 p.m. today.