Molloy's nationally ranked softball team was on the brink in the NCAA Division II East Regional after a frustrating loss to Dominican early Saturday morning. Thank goodness for double elimination. Molloy is the only Long Island team still standing after it defeated Adelphi, 3-2, as evening descended on the campus of LIU Post.
A tall order still awaits Molloy (43-11) Sunday as it must defeat upstate Dominican (39-15) twice to make the super regional. Molloy shortstop Nicolette Sinagra provided all of the offense when she hit a three-run home run in the first inning off Adelphi starter Laurin Watts. Adelphi had eliminated Post, 3-0, before meeting Molloy.
Molloy pitcher Megan Butterworth pitched a two-hitter, one hit coming on Victoria Wink's two-run homer in the third inning.
But Sinagra's blast set the tone. "However early we can get it, it's better that way,'' she said. "It felt nice, it's comforting to know we can get runs anytime we want. Well, not anytime we want.''
Sinagra was referring to a lack of run production against Dominican in the 7-3 loss several hours earlier. Dominican's Delaney Childers, who had thrown 12 innings in defeating Post on Friday, wasn't nearly as sharp against Molloy, giving up 11 hits in winning her 24th game against seven losses. Molloy stranded eight runners. "If I have 11 hits, I should win every game,'' Molloy coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke said. "Most people would agree with that.''
Sinagra added: "We were hitting [Childers], we just didn't hit her at the right time. It's all about timing in softball. I think that's what we need to work on.''
Meanwhile, Kelly Jansen, the East Coast Conference pitcher of the year for Molloy, gave up six earned runs. She walked six. "It's uncharacteristic of Kelly to walk so many,'' Cassidy-Lyke said. "She should have been able to make the adjustments, so it was very frustrating.''
Dominican used the long ball against Molloy with Childers hitting a two-run homer and Julie Plante a three-run shot.
Dominican did not reveal its pitching plans for Sunday, but Childers is likely to start the first game in an attempt to wrap up the regional. Molloy intends to use Jansen and Butterworth, though Cassidy-Lyke did not say in what order.
"We plan on playing two," she said. "So that means they'll each get a chance to throw.''