Longwood edges Connetquot, 9-8

Longwood's Nicole Lent throws a runner out at Longwood's Nicole Lent throws a runner out at third from centerfield in the fourth inning against Connetquot on Friday, April 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Bob Sorensen

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Get down and give me 40!

Good thing the Longwood softball team has been doing all of those push-ups each game. Without them, maybe the Lions don't hold on for a 9-8 win over previously unbeaten Connetquot yesterday in League I.

For every pop-up the team hits, each player must do five push-ups. For every ground ball put in play, their coach does five push-ups. The idea is to reduce easy outs and force teams to make plays.

"Our coaches hate when we hit pop-ups," catcher Alex Russo said. "We hate doing push-ups. It keeps us very motivated."

But without the added arm strength they've created, maybe Katie Weil doesn't hit the ball quite as far as she did yesterday.

Maybe Jennifer Corona doesn't pitch with as much speed.

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Maybe Madison Rappold doesn't throw the ball as hard on the game-ending double play.

Longwood brought a 9-3 lead into the top of the seventh inning before Connetquot scored five runs, capped by an RBI single by Erin Massmann that made it 9-8 and loaded the bases with one out.

With the tying run on third, reliever Ashley Blydenburgh induced a sharp grounder to Rappold at third. She snared the one-hopper and fired home to Russo, who stepped on the plate and threw to shortstop Alex Reggiani covering third. She stretched for the ball to complete your basic game-ending 5-2-6 double play.

"I had to get that lead runner because we had to end it right there," Rappold said. "I knew Alex would cover third and I knew Russo would turn the double play."

Kristina Balsano hit a two-run homer in the second and Sarah McKeveny, who had two hits and two RBIs, tied the score at 3 with an RBI double in the third for Connetquot (12-1).

Alexis Kopel escaped a rundown and slid home safely to give Longwood a 4-3 lead in the fourth. That became 9-3 on an RBI single in the sixth by Weil, who had two hits and two RBIs.

Beating a first-place team didn't excuse the Lions (9-2) from their postgame push-up routine. Eight pop flies, tallied on a dry-erase board in the dugout, meant 40 pushups. But they did so in a good mood, thanks to that unique double play.

"Pure instinct and adrenaline took over on that play," Reggiani said. "There wasn't a lot of thinking, just a lot of doing."

And then a lot of push-ups.

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