Pat Longobardi, Sports Writer:
The Southern softball team turned to junior Jayme Larson to carry the load against rival University of New Haven.
Larson was up to the challenge, pitching two complete games of a doubleheader as Southern swept the Chargers in the Northeast-10 Conference match-up at Pelz Field.
Larson pitched a two-hitter as Southern won game one, 5-1. With a 1-0 lead, Southern gained some breathing room in the bottom of the second, when senior second baseman Robin Priest hit a two-run home run to left, giving Southern a 3-0 lead and would chase UNH starter Alana Wesche from the game.
“Coming into this week, I knew I had to be prepared and focused,” said Larson.
UNH made it 3-1 in the fifth when left fielder Chelsea Harold reached on an error by the Owls and Brandy Dianno was able to make it home from second base.
Southern pushed their lead to 5-1 in the fifth when right fielder Brittany Bucko hit a two-run homerun to center-field.
Bucko and Priest led Southern, each going 2-for-3 with a homerun, two RBI, while scoring one run.
Larson gave up one unearned run, one walk and had seven strikeouts, while Wesche, a sophomore, took the loss, and pitched one inning, giving up three runs on four hits and one strikeout. Sophomore Keri Tricinelli pitched five innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits.
“Jayme Larson was phenomenal,” said Southern head coach, Lisa Barbaro. “It’s the first time we called on her to pitch two games, and she kept her composure.”
Larson continued her toughness and grit on the mound for her third consecutive start in two days. She did not disappoint, as she pitched another complete game, while receiving more than enough run support, as Southern won 3-1. The Owls scored all three of their runs in the second inning. After a lead-off walk from Jessica Rosa, Southern received three consecutive RBI singles from Alyssa Pagano, Shawna Mallory and Jillian Thibault.
UNH knocked on the door in the sixth, putting runners at the corners with no outs when junior right fielder Shannon Angehr was called safe at third base on a ground ball. Third baseman Lindsey Couturier made it 3-1 with an RBI ground out, scoring Angehr. Larson settled down, getting retiring the next three batters to end the inning.
“I’m a junior and we’ve yet to sweep [UNH],” said Larson. “I think I wanted it more this time.”
Brandy Dianno led UNH, as she went 2-for-3 and smacked two singles, while Couturier went 1-for-3 with one RBI.
“Stacy Pouliot was awesome,” said Barbaro. “She called a great game. [Larson and Pouliot] were both in sync.”
Thibault led Southern as she went 2-for-3 with one RBI and one stolen base, while Pagano went 1-for-2 with one RBI. Mallory went 1-for-2 and contributed with one RBI and scored a run.
Larson (14-6) received the win for the Owls as she threw seven innings, gave up one earned run, on four hits, and struck out three.
Junior Micah Stonesifer took the loss for UNH, as she tossed six innings and gave up three runs, walked three and struck out six.
Southern is 23-16 overall, 16-8 in conference, while UNH is 23-15, and 16-10 in the Northeast-10.