PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Who said experience is invaluable in tournaments?

Sixth-seeded St. Joseph’s College blew that theory out of the water Thursday by beating third-seeded Endicott College 8-1 in a first-round game at the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional at Rhode Island College.

The Monks (36-8) are playing in their first NCAA softball tournament while the Gulls (35-7) qualified for the ninth consecutive year, but St. Joseph’s had 14 hits compared to Endicott’s four.

Alyssa Dunn went 4 for 4 with three runs and two RBI, lacking only a triple to hit for the cycle. Lindsay Moore was 3 for 3.

Madylan Kluna (14-3) encountered only one speed bump — in the third when she allowed the Gulls’ run. Besides the four hits, she only walked one and struck out four.

Kluna’s performance was noteworthy considering Endicott ranks fourth in the nation with a .381 batting average and third in slugging percentage (.568).

“We tried to get them to focus on the job and the task at hand and not necessarily the crowd and all the other stuff they don’t have control over,” St. Joseph’s Coach Jamie Smyth said. “I feel that helped us.

“If you do that and continue to focus on pitching, throwing, fielding and hitting, those are the things you can control, and ultimately if you don’t let the outside factors affect you, you can have a good result like we did.”

Because the Monks had “a good result,” they’ll play a winners’ bracket game at 4 p.m. today against second-seeded Coast Guard (37-2), which beat Lesley 7-4 in Thursday’s final game.

“The only thing I was worried about was what our reaction would be to playing in our first regional game,” Smyth said. “After the first or second inning, I felt we were in a good spot and didn’t have the deer-in-the-headlights look.”

That was readily apparent in the second when Dunn and Moore hit doubles for a 1-0 lead.

The Monks added three runs in the third, one when Danyelle Shufelt scored on a fielder’s choice and the others on a home run to left field by Dunn.

“Alyssa is a senior who also plays field hockey and has been through eight varsity seasons and never won a conference championship,” Smyth said. “We finally did this year. Not that she needed a sense of urgency, but she realizes this is it for her.

“She’s certainly capable of doing what she did today. It didn’t shock any of us.”

What Kluna did wasn’t a shock either, considering she came in with a 2.13 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 105 innings. But that early four-run lead allowed her to exhale.

“It makes a huge difference as a pitcher,” she said. “I know I’m a lot more relaxed.

“I trust my defense (the Monks made no errors and center fielder Emily Leverone made a highlight-show catch in the second inning).

“I’m always relaxed out there because they can do the job, but it’s definitely a lot more comforting having some runs.”

St. Joseph’s added two runs in the fifth on Maria Labbe’s double and scored twice in the seventh on Labbe’s single and Katelyn Call’s RBI fielder’s choice.

“I think it’s remarkable the club we have,” Kluna said. “We have a nice mix of seniors and freshmen. It’s a nice balance.”