Molloy had to hold off a late comeback, but Chelsea Hawks, Milan Botte and the Lions are one win away from a trip to the College World Series in Salem, Virginia.
Hawks tossed a complete game and Botte went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead second-seeded Molloy over host Adelphi, 4-3, Thursday in Game 1 of the NCAA Division II Super Regional softball series. The two teams will play again Friday at 1 p.m. at Adelphi, with the top-seeded Panthers needing a win to force a Game 3 that would take place later that afternoon. The teams are vying for a berth in the national quarterfinals.
“It was key to win this first game,” said Botte, whose bases-clearing double with two outs in the third inning gave Molloy (36-16) a 3-0 lead. Botte then led off the sixth with a double and came around to score on a Tiana DeOliveira single to make it 4-0.
Adelphi (38-14-1) got on the board when Stephanie Staiano hit an RBI double in the sixth, then NE-10 Player of the Year Brenna Martini hit a two-run home run to straightaway center in the seventh to make it 4-3.
Hawks ensured the Panthers would not complete the comeback, as she induced a soft flyout to right to end the game. The Wading River product, who was named the ECC Pitcher of the Year, is now 19-11 with a 1.73 ERA.
“She’s been our go-to all year, and we told her ‘you’re going to win it for us or lose it for us, so you’re going to say out there,’ ’’ coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke said. “We had a lot of confidence in her.”
“[Catcher Alexandra] Russo was calling a great game and it worked out,” said Hawks, who struck out one, walked none, scattered eight hits, and allowed two earned runs.
Adelphi starter Lindsay Mapes allowed three earned runs and scattered six hits in seven innings.
Hawks retired 14 of the first 18 batters who came to the plate, and only allowed one runner past first base until the fifth inning.
With two outs in the fifth, Hawks surrendered a bloop hit before another Panther reached on an error to bring Martini to the plate as the tying run with two outs. Martini came into the game with the nation’s best slugging percentage (1.014) but Hawks got her to fly out to center to escape the jam.
Said Hawks: “Our motto is to keep the momentum on our side, so this was huge for us.”