• CNU easily beats E. Connecticut in the D3 softball national tournament
  • Kristen Rowe pitches her fourth straight shutout
  • Losers' top pitcher out with the flu



Excellent play and an opponent's misfortune combined to make Christopher Newport's first NCAA Division III Elite Eight softball game in school history an easy victory on a chilly Friday afternoon in Eau Claire, Wis.

The Captains (41-8) won 8-0 in 4 1/2 innings over an Eastern Connecticut State squad (36-5-1) whose star pitcher, All-American Molly Rathbun – also the Warriors' top hitter – remained at a hotel because of flu.

CNU senior Kristen Rowe (23-4) pitched her fourth consecutive shutout and improved to 5-0 in this year's NCAA tournament. After winning four home games at last weekend's regional, she yielded four Eastern hits. She worked her way out of bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth inning, ending the contest because of the mercy rule – at least an eight-run margin after at least five of a scheduled seven innings.

Mary Kennedy walked to start the bottom of the first, stole second and scored when Ashley Mani laced a double to the left-field fence. A wild pitch brought in another run.

In the third inning, the Captains virtually ensured the victory with five runs. Bruton High alumna Jen Falin lined a double that bewildered and went over the center fielder's head, and Taylor Morgan hit a two-run single.

How much did the Warriors miss Rathbun? She's 27-1 with a 0.61 ERA in 183 innings, and is hitting .420 with nine home runs and 36 RBI.

CNU next will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Friday night's contest between East Texas Baptist and Moravian (Pa.).


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