Lyons and Cougars to clash tomorrow in game two at 11 a.m.
UNION, N.J. – Kean University senior starter Courtney Yard (Stockton, N.J./Hunterdon Central) struck out 11 batters in a complete-game effort on Friday evening to lead the Cougars to a 3-0 win over Wheaton College in game one of the NCAA Division III Softball Super Regional.
Yard allowed just two hits and issued three free passes on 132 pitches (81 strikes) to push her record to 23-8 overall on the season.
Wheaton senior starter Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) was handed the loss (16-6) on 4 1/3 innings pitched, five hits, three runs (all earned), one walk and four strikeouts. Junior Jillian Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) blanked the Cougars over the final 1 2/3 innings yielding just one hit on 28 pitches (17 strikes).
Scoreless after the first inning of play, first-year Cayleen Rizo (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough) put the hosts on the scoreboard with her team-leading fourth home run of the season to left center field for a 1-0 advantage.
Berardi had retired five in a row up until that point, which included back-to-back strikeouts to start the second inning, but Rizo eventually lined a 2-2 offering the other way and over the fence off of Berardi to win a seven pitch at-bat.
In the third, junior Emma Hart (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) worked a six pitch, one-out walk, while classmate Madeline Hatch (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) followed with a single to shallow right center field to put runners at first and second for the Lyons.
Sophomore Morgan Walsh (Norwell, Mass./Norwell) then hit a deep fly ball to right field that advanced both Hart and Hatch up a base for the second out of the inning. Yard immediately squandered the scoring threat with a pop out to Rizo at short to maintain the 1-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, Kean threatened with runners on second and third with one out, but Wheaton sophomore shortstop Mary DeMoura (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) made a heads up play on a ground ball to cut down a potential run at the plate.
After sophomore Emily Bissonnette (Stewartsville, N.J./Phillipsburg) hit a chopper to short, DeMoura froze junior Tonianne DeMatteo (Nutley, N.J./Nutley) between third and home before cutting her down at the plate (6-2). Wheaton junior catcher Kelly Welch (Wood Dale, Ill./Fenton) applied the tag on the play.
Yard went on to retire six straight batters, counting the final out in the third, before Hart broke up the streak by legging out an infield single to short in the fifth. Hart proceeded to steal second base on a 3-0 pitch later in the frame for her 29th swipe of the season, but Yard induced a pop up to third base to end the scoring chance.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kean sophomore Emily Sabo (Rahway, N.J./Rahway) made it 3-0 when she launched a two-run shot to left center field for her third round-tripper of the 2015 campaign. Yard scored on the home run after reaching base via a fielder's choice in the previous at-bat.
Yard retired the side in order twice, and set down seven straight batters in total, down the stretch to wrap up her tenth shutout and 29th complete game of the season.
Wheaton (33-9) takes on Kean University (29-12-1) in game two of the best of three series tomorrow at Cougar Softball Field at 11 a.m. Game two was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. but was moved up to an earlier time slot due to weather concerns.