AMHERST, Mass.— Fourth-seeded George Mason upset the top seeded Dayton, 8-5 in the 2015 Atlantic 10 Conference Softball Championship Thursday afternoon at Sortino Field.
The Patriots scored in the second, third, sixth and seventh innings, taking an early lead and holding off multiple Dayton rallies. It marks the first time since 2006 that the top seed in the A-10 Softball Championship has lost its first game of the tournament.
Mason (23-27) advances to the winner’s bracket semifinal on Friday at noon and will face the winner between No. 2 Saint Louis and No. 3 Fordham. Dayton (37-13) falls into the consolation bracket and will play Friday at 2:30 pm.
Liz Seymour (2-for-5) and Katie Kitts (2-for-3) led the Patriot offense, with Kitts collecting four RBI and a run scored. Casey Price also had three RBI for Mason. The Patriots had seven hits total and also took advantage of 11 walks issued by the Flyers.
Kitts opened the scoring for Mason with a two-run blast to left centerfield that scored Julia Czarnecki in the second inning. The Patriots then loaded the bases in the top of the third and chased A-10 Pitcher of the Year Kayla English from the game. But on the next batter, Kitts struck again with a bases-loaded single that scored Brooke Blankenship and Breanna Boyd.
But the dangerous bats of the Flyers began to chip away at the lead, getting one back in the bottom of the third. A lead-off double by Natalie Mariano led to a run when A-10 Player of the Year Tiffany Ricks belted a single to right that was deep enough to score Mariano. A lead-off walk by Kayla Haberstich gave UD a run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Mariano. Dayton, which lost just two conference games all season, finished the rally in the fifth. An RBI groundout by Haberstich scored Gabrielle Snyder and Hannah DeSalvo singed to shortstop to plate Ricks, tying the game at four.
A bases-loaded walk to Price gave Mason the lead again, pushing Mary O’Connor home. Boyd’s fielder’s choice then scored Seymour and the Patriots went back ahead 6-5 in the top of the sixth. Snyder got one run back for Dayton with a two-out double in the bottom of the sixth to plate Jaclyn Kweder.
George Mason added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh on a Price single. Patriots’ relief pitcher Sarah Kleinfelter then got some help from her defense to finish the game and secure the win. Kleinfelter (5-5) went 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs with two strikeouts.
A-10 Rookie of the Year Manda Cash (10-2) suffered the loss, throwing 2.2 innings of relief, surrendering two runs on two hits with four strikeouts.
Mariano went 3-for-4 with a runs and an RBI to lead Dayton, which had eight hits in the game.