The softball bounced the way of the Central Lakes College Raiders fast-pitch team Thursday as it won its first two games in the NJCAA Division III tournament at Rochester.
In their second game, the Raiders rallied to defeat unranked Gloucester County of Sewell, N.J., 9-8.
Trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the seventh, CLC's Alison LeBlanc led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, Lindsey Jourdan walked and Megan Anderson ripped a two-run triple. Ali Mathison and Brittany Thorson drew intentional walks to load the bases.
At that point, Gloucester brought in its center fielder as a fifth infielder. Kjelsy Loeffler then hit a line drive up the middle, which the pitcher retrieved but Megan Anderson beat the throw to the plate for a 9-8 Raiders victory.
Kjelsey Loeffler had the winning hit in Game 2.
"We don't know if it hit the pitcher, the mound or the rubber," Raiders coach Bob Sullivan said. "We're not sure. Everything happened so fast.
"We had the bases loaded and no outs so we knew we had a couple other chances to hopefully score but it worked out. We were able to get Megan home and the game was over."
The Raiders were scheduled to play top-ranked Monroe Community College of New York in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Friday.
"We're going up against the defending national champs in Monroe," Sullivan said. "We'll have to play solid defense to have any hope of beating them.
"I think we can hit off their pitchers. Their pitchers are about the same as ours. We'll just have to play a good defensive game. It should be a good matchup. You come here to play the best and we'll get an opportunity to do that (Friday)."
Win or lose Friday the Raiders play only one game and have assured themselves of no less than a fourth-place finish.
CLC 9, Gloucester 8
Ali Mathison started for the Raiders and pitched three innings, giving up nine hits and eight runs.
Malerie Riewer finished. She gave up one hit, struck out one and gave up no runs and two walks.
CLC scored five runs in the second. Gloucester scored all eight runs in the third.
"We didn't help ourselves," Sullivan said. "We should never have been behind. We committed an awful lot of errors (eight).
"We're playing on some interesting ground. It's extremely hard, like concrete, but it's the same for everybody. It's a little bit of an adjustment. It's giving the girls a little bit of a problem but we were able to hit the ball, come back and win it.
"Right now we're playing with a lot of confidence and we're having a good time."
Gloucester County 8 10 2
Central Lakes 9 9 8
WP-Riewer. 2B-CLC, Alison LeBlanc. 3B-CLC, Megan Anderson. RBIs-CLC, Lindsey Jourdan, 2, Megan Anderson 3, Loeffler, Jess Michels 2. Overall-CLC 30-12. Next-CLC vs. Monroe in NJCAA semifinals at 4 p.m. Friday at Rochester.
CLC 6, Westmoreland 1
Riewer pitched five innings, giving up a run and five hits. She struck out three, walked one and allowed one earned run.
Mathison picked up a save. In two innings she gave up no runs, no hits and struck out one.
Thorson had an RBI single in the third and Kjelsy Loeffler had a two-run double in sixth.
"Everybody is playing so well together," Sullivan said. "It's been a team effort. The pitchers have worked well together. If one would get in trouble the other would come in and take over. It's good to see them working so well together. They have a lot of confidence."
Westmoreland County College 1 5 5
Central Lakes 6 7 2
WP-Malerie Riewer. LP-Nikki Lindbergh. 2B-CLC, Kjelsy Loeffler. RBIs-CLC, Megan Anderson, Brittany Thorson, Loeffler 2.
Mike Bialka may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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