AMHERST, Mass.— Fordham senior Cora Ianiro drove in a pair of runs on extra-base hits to spark the third-seeded Rams to a 4-2 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded George Mason in the Atlantic 10 Softball Championship at Sortino Field Friday afternoon.
Fordham (35-18) advances to Saturday’s championship game, while George Mason (23-28) drops into the consolation bracket and will face the Dayton-La Salle winner in an elimination game Friday at 5:00 p.m.
The Rams, two-time defending A-10 champions, will appear in the title game for the fifth time in the last six years.
Ianiro went 2-for-3 and broke open the scoreless deadlock with her RBI triple in the fourth. Lindsay Mayer also had two hits and drove in one.
Rachel Gillen (22-8) struck out four and allowed two runs over 6.2 innings for her second win of the championship.
Michelle Daubman opened the three-run fourth with a one-out double before Ianiro sliced a triple inside the foul line in right to give Fordham a 1-0 lead. Brianna Turgeon followed with a single through the right side to plate Ianiro.
Sydney Canessa kept the inning going with a fly ball single that landed just under the outstretched glove of Sarah Solano in right, who dove while charging in on the play. Mayer followed a pitching change and a fielder’s choice with a singled to right as Turgeon scored from second and Canessa moved to third, extending the Ram lead to 3-0.
The Rams added another run in the fifth to push their lead to 4-0. Once again, Daubman and Ianiro worked their magic as Daubman drew a 2-out walk and scored on Ianiro’s double to deep right center.
Mason didn’t go quietly, cutting the deficit in half in the sixth inning. Liz Seymour led off and reached on a throwing error by the Turgeon at short and Brooke Blankenship hit a two-run homer to left. It was the senior’s team-leading ninth long ball of the season and snapped a 28-inning scoreless stretch for the Patriots against the Rams, dating back to the final series of the regular-season last weekend.
Mason threatened again in the seventh, as pinch runner Lindsay Merriken and Mary O’Connor reached with two away, forcing Daubman to relieve Gillen in the circle. Dubman needed just four pitches to get Seymour to strike out swinging for her second save of the year.
Seymour and Blankenship had two hits each for the Patriots. Casey Herring (9-10) struck out a pair but gave up three runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings to take the loss.