BROOKHAVEN, N.Y.- In the first game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament East Regional, the Merrimack softball team stunned the top-seed Dowling 2-1 behind a pitching gem from sophomore Kelli Jo Deardorff (Bedford, Mass.). The Warriors improved to 29-20 overall while the Golden Lions dropped to 42-7 on the year.
Deardorff allowed three hits in seven innings while striking out three batters. Tawny Palmieri (Peabody, Mass.) registered Merrimack's lone hit in the game.
In the top of the sixth, Palmieri broke up Dowling's Jessie Stavola's bid at a no-hitter. Palmieri smashed an 0-2 delivery over the fence in left center to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead after Jamie Millett (Hudson, Mass.) drew a two-out walk.
A base knock up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the sixth by Deana Tortorici drove in Melissa Perez from second base to cut the Golden Lions' deficit to one run, 2-1.
Dowling put runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Shortstop Kristen LeMay (Shrewsbury, Mass.) snagged a pop up in shallow left field to finish the game.
The Warriors advance to play the winner of the contest between Southern Connecticut State and Dominican (NY) at 11 a.m.
"Today's game was a great battle between two top pitchers. Tawny came through for us in the sixth when we really needed her. Jamie got things going with a great at-bat which she earned a walk," said head coach Elaine Schwager.