WASHINGTON—Fordham won three games Sunday to claim the 2016 Atlantic 10 Softball Championship, their fourth straight and fifth in the last six years. The Rams, who reached the championship finals out of the consolation bracket, beat Saint Joseph’s 4-3 in the first championship game and 5-1 in the second game.
Fordham had to beat UMass, 6-2, in a rescheduled Sunday morning game to reach the final. All three Sunday games were played at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Athletic Complex. The Rams earn the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and will learn their fate at 10:00 pm ET Sunday when the NCAA Selection Show airs on ESPNU.
The Rams scattered five runs on 11 hits across four of the seven innings in the deciding game two, and got strong pitching from All-Championship selections Lauren Quesne and Rachel Gillen. Quesne (17-9), who earned the early morning victory over UMass, also got the game two win. She allowed five hits and one run against Saint Joseph’s. Gillen, who won the first game versus SJU also picked up her second save of the year in the final game, allowing just one hit and no runs in one and two-thirds innings of work. She was named the Championship’s Most Outstanding Player.
Seven different Rams recorded a hit in the second game, with Sydney Canessa, Chelsea Skrepenak, A-10 Rookie of the Year Jessica Hughes and All-Championship selection Madison Shaw each collecting two hits. Canessa, Shaw, Morgan Figueroa and Amy Van Hoven each had an RBI.
Sarah Yoos and Brandi Harkness, who were both named to the All-Championship team, each had a hit for the Hawks, as did Raelynn Genovese, Hannah Dionne, Kaylyn Zierke and Madeline Brunck. Yoos had the only RBI of the game for SJU. The Hawks used three pitchers, with starter Ashley Ventura (14-11) taking the loss, allowing one run on five hits.
Fordham had to win four games in 24 hours to claim the title, including a 12-inning marathon Saturday. The Rams also placed A-10 Player of the Year Lindsay Mayer on the All-Championship team. Joining her was Cyndi Wilson and Amanda Kulp from Saint Joseph’s, Jena Cozza and Meg Colleran from UMass, and Dayton’s Manda Cash.
Saint Joseph’s, which beat Fordham to open the championship last Thursday, would have claimed the title with a win in the first championship game. But the extra-inning affair broke in favor of the Rams in the eighth inning when Van Hoven’s two-out seeing-eye single up the middle drove in Cailin Winokur.
Mayer’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first scored Canessa and gave Fordham a 2-0 lead. That stretched into a three-run lead when Shaw scored on Hughes’ single to center.
But the big Saint Joseph’s bats woke up in the fourth when Wilson hit a solo homer down the left field line, just inside the foul pole. An inning later Yoos, whose big stick had benefitted the Hawks all week, crushed a home run to centerfield to drive in Kulp and tie the game. It stayed tied until Van Hoven’s eighth inning heroics for Fordham.
Gillen (16-10) went the distance for Fordham to get the win, allowing six hits and three runs with an impressive 10 strikeouts. Ventura took a relief loss for Saint Joseph’s tossing 1.2 innings with three hits and one run. The Hawks used three pitchers in the game, including starter Madison Clarke and reliever Anna Lauterbach. Lauterbach went the longest, throwing 3.2 innings and allowing no runs on just one hit in the no decision.
Mayer, who had two RBI, and Shaw both went 2-for-4 for Fordham. Yoos was 2-for-3 with the two RBI and a run scored.