FAIRFAX, Va. -- The Fordham Rams claim their fifth straight Atlantic 10 Softball Title after a thrilling if necessary game that went nine innings. Madison Aughinbaugh had a walk-off double to right field to win it for the Rams, 2-1.
Massachusetts forced the if necessary game with a 3-2 win earlier in the afternoon. That game also went to extra innings as Jena Cozza hit a sac fly to left giving Kaitlyn Stavinoha, who reached base on an error, time to score.
Fordham (45-15) earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with their title win. The Rams will face Utah in the Salt Lake City Regional, the first pitch is set for 8:30pm ET and will be aired on ESPN3.
Fordham jumped out to an early lead, scoring one in the bottom of the first as Sydney Canessa came home on a ground out to short from Skylar Johnston. Canessa reached base on a walk and advanced to third on a single from Madison Shaw.
The game would remain in the Rams favor as they tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth as Johnston hit a single-run homerun off the left field foul pole. Massachusetts looked to rally with their season on the line and scored two in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Both Caitlyn Hickey and Tara Klee scored. Hickey reached home off a hard hit single to right field from Klee. Candace Denis would hit a line drive single to the shortstop giving Klee time to score from third.
The game would head into the eighth and Massachusetts would answer to force an if necessary game. Cozza hit a sac fly to left giving Stavinoha the room to make it home, sealing the win for the Minutewomen.
Meg Colleran was credited the win after pitch a complete game, only allowing four hits on two runs (both earned), while striking out four and walking just one.
Lauren Quense (22-9) would take the loss after throwing a complete game in the circle, allowing four hits on three runs, walking three and striking out two.
The pitching dual would continue into the second game of the day. The Minutewomen stuck with Meg Colleran on the rubber while Fordham would give a new look, pitching Madison Aughinbaugh.
Massachusetts used the momentum from game one to jump out to an early lead, scoring Cozza who would hit a double to right field, later scoring on a throwing error.
The score remained the same until the bottom of the fifth inning when Fordham would string together a single and a double from Aughinbaugh and Canessa, respectively. Aughinbaugh would score on Canessa's double tying the game 1-1. The Rams threatened to take the lead, leaving two on base, but were unable to capitalize.
After three and a half scoreless innings the Rams found the break they needed as they had runners on second and third and Aughinbaugh hits a double to right field, scoring Skrepenak, securing the title win for the Rams.
Aughinbaugh would earn the win in the circle pitching nine complete innings allowing 13 hits on one run, while striking out five.
Colleran faced 36 batters over 138 pitches, allowing 11 hits and two runs (each earned), while striking out five. Throughout the championship Colleran pitched all but one inning of work for the Minutewomen and in the final two games threw 237 pitches in 16.1 innings of work. The junior earned the Most Outstanding Player award of the 2017 Championship for her stellar performance in the circle.
An 11 member all-championship team was announced after the title game, honoring 11 individuals who were chosen based on their performance in this week's Championship.
Madison Aker, George Mason
Ashley Ventura, Saint Joseph's
Allie MacFarlane, Saint Louis
Meg Colleran, Massachusetts
Jena Cozza, Massachusetts
Candace Dennis, Massachusetts
Madison Aughinbaugh, Fordham
Sydney Canessa, Fordham
Jessica Hughes, Fordham
Madison Shaw, Fordham
Lauren Quense, Fordham