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Hoyt, Blubaugh Shine As Muskingum Eliminates William-Paterson

A day after failing to come up with the big hits in its opening-round loss to Chapman, Muskingum got a two-run home run from Nicole Blubaugh to compliment another stellar pitching performance from Erica Hoyt as Muskingum eliminated William Paterson 3-0 at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Raleigh, N.C.

Hoyt allowed just four hits in the contest and registered five strikeouts. She baffled the Pioneers in the early innings, setting down the side in the first two frames. 

"I felt like I was throwing pretty hard today in the beginning. I hit my spots well like yesterday, and I kind of focused more on looking for the batters' weaknesses," Hoyt said. "We tried to pitch to their weaknesses. Later in the game they started timing up the outside, so we started going inside more, and it worked pretty well." 

"I thought we played a lot more relaxed today," Muskies' head coach Donna Newberry said. "Yesterday we had difficulty scoring runs when we had runners on base. We got a couple of key hits. Nicole's home run was huge for us. I thought we played very well defensively in a well-pitched game." 

The Muskies' junior hurler got all the offense she would need in the second inning as Kim Tackett singled to score Brittany Hess who slid into home plate just before the throw. 

William Paterson tried to answer in the third as Brandi Kavaliauskas singled and advanced to third with two outs. Hoyt got Liz Sisca to ground out to end the threat. 

The Muskies added insurance in the third as Julie Johnston reached on an error and Blubaugh stepped up and hit the two-run blast over the right field fence. 

"I knew I had to pick myself up from yesterday and help Erica get some more runs on the board," Blubaugh said. 

The Pioneers threatened again in the sixth as April Sardinas-Wyssling and Mindy Coxe reached on back-to-back singles, but Hoyt once again got out of the jam as Nicky Arias popped out to third base. 

"Erica pitched a fantastic game, keeping us off-balance. It took us five to six innings to get on her, and that was the difference in the game," William Paterson's Hallie Cohen said. "Muskingum's batters came out swinging -- hitting first pitches and hitting balls hard on the ground. They got one good shot that put the game out of reach for us." 

The Pioneers end their season at 37-11-1, while Muskingum (42-6) advances to play the loser of Saturday's contest between St. Thomas and Salisbury.