WELLESLEY, Mass. — Rivier scored the game’s only run in the seventh inning, sending Bowdoin to a 1-0 loss Thursday in its first appearance in the NCAA Division III softball tournament.

Rivier (33-4), the fifth seed, turned a leadoff double into the game’s only run off Bowdoin ace Kara Nilan, pitcher of the year in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

“It was a zero-zero game, and when you get the leadoff runner in scoring position with no outs, it’s costly, and it was,” said Nilan, who struck out five. “They played a great game as well. There wasn’t much we could do.”

The Polar Bears (33-13) fell into the loser’s bracket and will face eighth-seeded Husson today at 10 a.m. Husson (28-14) lost Thursday to top seed Eastern Connecticut State 8-0 in the opening game of the tournament.

Nilan allowed leadoff singles in the first and sixth innings, but she was able to get out of both jams. Then in the top of the seventh, Rivier used a leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to get on the scoreboard.

“More often than not, I have confidence that we can work ourselves out of those situations,” said Bowdoin Coach Ryan Sullivan. “The team has confidence in each other. When we get in pressure situations, we have confidence that we can rise up to the occasion.”

Amanda Thornton doubled to deep right to lead off the seventh inning and Danielle Magnant came in to pinch run. Karen Waterman sacrificed her to third base, and Brenna Campbell lofted a fly ball to deep center field that easily scored Magnant.

Bowdoin threatened when it got a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh. Molly Nestor ripped a single to left, but Rivier closed the door as Lauren Coven popped up to the shortstop and Hillary Smyth struck out swinging to end the game.

“It’s huge,” said Rivier Coach Kelly O’Connell, whose team faces Eastern Connecticut State (33-4-1) at 2 p.m. today. “Anytime you can stay in the winner’s bracket, you are in the driver’s seat. It takes the pressure off us.”

Bowdoin’s offense was held to one hit over the first five innings against Rivier pitcher Monica White (27-3). In the bottom of the sixth, Nilan and Caroline Dewar each singled with one out and after Shavonne Lord hit into a fielder’s choice, Clare Ronan walked to load the bases.

But White was able to escape by striking out Amy Hackett.

“The pitch selection didn’t change,” said White, who threw 110 pitches and allowed four hits. “It helped getting that first out.”

Bowdoin faces elimination today, the fourth time in as many weekends that it has been presented with the scenario. Each other time, the Polar Bears managed to keep their season alive. They will need a similar effort today.

“It will be a slight advantage for us having been in the situation the last three weekends,” Sullivan said. “This is a very resilient group. We’ll be ready.”

 

NOTES: Bowdoin had three players leave after the game to return to campus for academic reasons. Lord and Jamie Paul, both seniors, were finishing their honors psychology projects Thursday night, while Hackett, a sophomore, was to take an exam that was rescheduled from Wednesday night.