A huge effort yielded a super reward for the Molloy softball team. Needing two victories, Molloy swept Dominican, 5-0 and 4-3, to win the NCAA Division II East Regional Sunday at LIU Post.
Molloy advances to this weekend's best-of-three Super Regional against Southern Connecticut. The winner will play in the eight-team national championship in Louisville.
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"This is what we hoped for,'' said Molloy pitcher Megan Butterworth, who started both games. "It was exciting that we had to win two and were able to do it.''
Butterworth made it easy in the first game, tossing a four-hit shutout. Jeana Frey had three hits and two runs batted in.
Frey also emerged as the hitting star in the second game, lining a walk-off two-run single to erase a one-run deficit.
With the score tied at 2 entering the seventh, Kelly Jansen relieved Butterworth and struck out the first two batters before hitting Ashley Martinez. Julie Plante then hit a sinking line drive to left. Megan Hutnick tried to make a diving catch, but the ball got by her and Martinez scored the go-ahead run.
Molloy coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke met Hutnick at the dugout steps. "We talk about that continually,'' the coach said. "With a runner on, just keep the ball in front of you.''
But Molloy (46-11) was not through, and Hutnick would play a role in the winning rally. "In the last inning, we can't let it go down like this,'' Frey said she told her teammates. "We really wanted it. People make mistakes. We all pick each other up.''
The Molloy rally started with consecutive singles by Brenda Lee and Josette Cavallaro. Dominican pitcher Delaney Childers struck out Lauren Alexander, but Hutnick's sacrifice bunt advanced Lee to third and Cavallaro to second.
With two outs, Frey lined a 2-and-2 pitch to left-center, and when it broke off the glove of leftfielder Martinez, the tying and winning runs scored. Martinez dropped to her knees in tears as Molloy celebrated its victory.
"Tough play," Dominican coach Joe Burbridge said. "It's a play that because of [Martinez's] talent she usually makes. But it's not a routine play. It's one of those plays if you make it, it's exceptional. If you don't, it's not a surprise.''
Martinez was too upset to comment.
Frey, who was credited with a single, said, "When it came off the bat, I thought it was hit pretty well between the gap, but then the leftfielder came through. I actually thought she was going to get it at first. I was hoping for the best, and it worked out.''